Central Upper Rhine / Northern Black Forest

Background and Goals

Around 1.6 million people live in 127 towns and communities over 4,470km² in the Central Upper Rhine / Northern Black Forest model region. The spatial structure of the model region is characterised by the densely populated Karlsruhe/Pforzheim urban districts. In addition, the model region includes the Baden-Baden urban district and the five rural districts of Karlsruhe, Rastatt, Enzkreis, Calw and Freudenstadt. The landscape classification is varied and includes opposite types of landscape. It covers everything from the Rhine valley and the Rhine plain to the Kraichgau and Heckengäu through to the ridges of the Stromberg and the peaks of the Northern Black Forest.

Because of the importance of the climate for the macro economy, adaptation of land use and land use structures to the effects of climate change is a key element of sustainable spatial development strategies. This results in new requirements for spatial planning. In future, it will increasingly need to coordinate the growing conflicts between different demands. At the same time, it will be faced with the task of initiating the development of a climate adapted spatial and land use structure. With the basic concept of creating a stakeholder network, the cities of Pforzheim and Baden-Baden and the Enzkreis district are participating in the model project.


Climate protection and adaptation measures combine to form an overall strategy that promises success. While climate protection is a global objective, adaptation to climate change is directly involved with local living conditions. The project focused on the objective of highlighting appropriate measures for adaptation to climate change. Its content was split into the themes of "Housing, flooding" and "Tourism, agriculture and forestry and conservation".

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
Natural spatial classification
  • Alp and North Bavarian hills
Spatial resolution 

Central Upper Rhine / Northern Black Forest

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

CLM data (Climate Limited-Area Model;
SRES scenario A1B);
current climate projections were provided by the German Meteorological Office (DWD);

Parameter (climate signals)
  • River flooding
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Low water
Further Parameters 

temperature threshold days, humidity

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

Changes in climate parameters such as temperature, precipitation and humidity result in a wide range of effects on nature and built-up areas:

  •  Deterioration of urban climate due to increased heat load;
  •  Increased importance of altitude for local recreation during hot periods;
  •  Risk to the framework for winter sport;
  •  Increasing flooding events in narrow valleys and in the Upper Rhine basin;
  •  Increase in heavy rain with extreme flood risk;
  •  Increasing loss of topsoil due to water erosion (Kraichgau, Stromberg);
  •  Change in mix of tree species, effects on forests as an economic factor and living space due to primary (storms) and secondary hazards (forest fires etc.).

Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances

Approach and results 

The consequential effects of climate change have an influence on the model region's vulnerability. Local heavy rain events with extreme local flood risks and increases in flooding along water courses combined with anticipated periods of low water will necessitate different preventive and adaptation actions at regional planning level. The increase in heat loads in the densely populated areas of Karlsruhe and Pforzheim will induce preventive regional planning action.

Urgency and priorization of adaptation needs 

The impact of climate change is particularly significant in the areas of heat loads in the densely populated areas of Karlsruhe, Pforzheim and Mühlacker and flood events on the Upper Rhine and the narrow Enz, Nagold and Würm valleys.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The focus for adaptation in the model region was to establish climate change as a permanent planning and decision-making factor at regional planning level, lower administrative levels and in autonomous local administration and to enable these stakeholders to take action across various fields. Efforts concentrated on putting in place the awareness of the problem and information needed for collaborative action and on establishing a regional climate change network. Thematically, the area of urban climate was the key focus, as increasing heat loads are expected in densely populated areas and due to the narrow valleys in the Black Forest.

Protecting the climate and air are key elements of spatial (environmental) planning. A report on "climatic compensating functions in the Central Upper Rhine and Northern Black Forest region" was produced, in which model calculations for different climate parameters were used to represent the range of expected climate changes on a map. "Climate and ecology" guidelines were then developed to supplement this. The guidelines indicate how protecting the climate and air can be incorporated into considerations at different planning levels. The urgency of the issue will be communicated and the value of open spaces, ventilation corridors etc. for the urban climate will be highlighted. Optimisation of local energy management will also be pursued.

Time horizon
  • 2071–2100 (far future)


Funding / Financing 

Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) and the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR): KlimaMORO

Project management 

Regionalverband Nordschwarzwald;
Regionale Forschungsassistenz: Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Grundlagen der Planung


Regionalverband Mittlerer Oberrhein; Landesanstalt für Umwelt, Messungen und Naturschutz (LUBW)


Regionalverband Nordschwarzwald
Habermehlstrasse 20
D-75172 Pforzheim

Printer-friendly version
Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  building sector  human health  spatial, regional and urban land use planning  tourism industry  water regime, water management  woodland and forestry