Strengthening communities and stakeholder engagement in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley through participatory governance, awareness raising and quality controls

Published: 03 December 2021
Last edited: 13 December 2021
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The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is a cultural landscape characteristic for its castles, historic towns and vineyards. In 2002, a 67km stretch of the valley between Bingen, Rüdesheim und Koblenz was inscribed on the World Heritage List for its values as an evolved organic cultural landscape made of 48 small towns, extensive terraced vineyards and the ruins of castles that once secured one of the most important trade routes in Europe. The site is associated with centuries-long history and legends that have exercised a powerful influence on writers, artists and composers throughout time.

The management and conservation of this cultural landscape is highly dependent on the wellbeing and sustainability of its people and communities. The solution focuses on the participatory governance model and various projects created to support local communities and businesses in shaping a virtuous sustainable region.


West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Area-wide development
Buildings and facilities
Connective infrastructure, networks and corridors
Freshwater ecosystems
River, stream
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Genetic diversity
Local actors
Outreach & communications
Standards/ certification
World Heritage
Other theme
climate change adaptation
sustainable tourism
Infrastructure development
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations


Upper Middle Rhine Valley, Rhein, Sankt Goarshausen, Rhineland-Palatinate 56346, Germany


Environmental challenges: the protection of the natural landscape requires coordinated actions for enhanced adaptation to the effects of climate change and thus the preservation of the regional diversity of agricultural varieties, flora and species;

Cultural and social challenges: limited participation and awareness of the site’ World Heritage status as well as of its natural and cultural values;

Economic challenges: the possible stagnation of tourism numbers and of the local tourism services is a potential limit to the sustainability and sustainable economic development of the area; other challenges are posed by proposals for the construction of infrastructures near the World Heritage property of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley.


The main beneficiaries of this solution are local communities and business owners living or located inside and nearby wider region of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. The solution also provides benefits to those visiting the heritage place.

How do the building blocks interact?

The management and conservation of the World Heritage property of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley cultural landscape are directly connected with the wellbeing and sustainability of local communities and local businesses. The governance structure in place for the protection of the site is based on the direct participation of all concerned municipal, district and state authorities united under the Upper Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage Association, in German Zweckverband Welterbe Oberes Mittelrheintal (BB1).

At the site level, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage Local Action Group, also known as LAG (BB2); the World Heritage Academy (BB3); and the Welterbe Gastgeber – certified World Heritage Host (BB4) support the protection of this unique cultural landscape fostering the sustainable development and wellbeing of local communities and businesses and shaping a virtuous sustainable region.


  • Environmental: the solution contributes to preserving local biodiversity by promoting agricultural products typical of the region such as viticulture and fruit growing (e.g. cherries);
  • Cultural and social: strengthening participatory approaches through the establishment of thematic working groups and networks operating in various aspects of management, conservation and local sustainable development; building local capacities on local traditional knowledge (e.g. dry stone walls, cherry cultures) and new technologies (renewable energy); raising local, national and international awareness on the values of the region and the World Heritage status.
  • Economic: strengthening the local tourism industry with the creation of a quality award certification for local hospitality businesses providing high quality services and raising awareness on the values of the World Heritage property of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and its Outstanding Universal Value; promotion of quality experiences and products from the region; enhancing local economic capacities and sectors through research and allocation of development funds.


Jürgen Johann

“Middle Rhine Cherries”


The Upper Middle Rhine Valley looks back on a very long cherry tradition. In AD 60, the Romans already reported that cherries were cultivated and in the centuries that followed cultivation was continuously intensified. Until the middle of the 20th century, Middle Rhine Cherries were a real export hit. The cherry region was thriving with more than 370.000 cherry trees. Often unique varieties that were only grown in the region. The small, round fruit influenced whole generations and the cultivation shaped the landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley.


But since the 1960s, cherry cultivation has rapidly declined. Competition from imported cherries grew and the market required large quantities in consistent quality. Uniformity above diversity. Unified flavour instead of taste explosion. Today only a handful of fruit farmers exist in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and the one-of-a-kind cherry varieties are threatened by extinction. 


Coordinated by the Upper Middle Rhine World Heritage Association, the initiative "Middle Rhine Cherries" brings together dedicated cherry-lovers and producers from the region to preserve the cherry diversity in the region. By creating and selling high-quality products containing Middle Rhine Cherries, the seasonal fruit can be offered all year round. Furthermore, old and rare varieties are prevented from extinction, which in conclusion also helps maintaining the beautiful landscape.


Contributed by

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Nadya König-Lehrmann Zweckverband Welterbe Oberes Mittelrheintal

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Zweckverband Welterbe Oberes Mittelrheintal