The Palatinate Forest is one of the largest interconnected forest areas in Germany and is part of the transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Palatinate Forest / Northern Vosges with a total area of 302,800 ha. On the German side the area amounts 179,000 ha, including 36,000 ha of Habitats Directive areas. This is where a subpopulation of lynx shall be established with help of the European support programme LIFE. Due to the conservative dispersal behaviour of the lynx, it is not to expect that a lynx population will establish on its own.
After surveys on behalf of the county Rhineland-Palatinate, it was found that the Palatinate Forest and Northern Vosges areas ensure suitable habitats for the reintroduction of the lynx. An active release of lynx on the German side of the biosphere reserve is recommended.
The reintroduced lynx might migrate to the northern Vosges to be in a direct genetic exchange with subpopulations in the middle and southern Vosges, as well as in the Jura and the Alps. This would make the Palatinate Forest a partial habitat of a large, stable metapopulation of lynx.
In Europe, this species can be found just in a few refuges and those subpopulations are listed as endangered by the IUCN in central and Western Europe. Therefore this project plays an essential role in the protection and conservation of lynx in Europe.