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Fischbach and Ludwigswinkel, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

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The municipalities Fischbach and Ludwigswinkel, linked by their area of association, are located in southwestern Palatinate and have a collective population of 2.385 inhabitants. Both municipalities have a high number of commuters to the centres of Pirmasens ans Zweibrücken (25 to 45 km) as well as to the easily accessible agglomerations Kaiserlautern, Karlsruhe, Saarbrücken and Ludwigshafen and mainly serve residential and recreational purposes. The percentage of 35- to 65-year-olds is set around 45%.

The development motto “biosphere meets innovation” perfectly included the existing framework conditions and aims to develop the strengths of the municipality. In 1992, the UNESCO biosphere reserve Palatinate Forest was established; the Natura 2000-area, nature reserves and Flora-Fauna-Habitat preservation areas were designated at the same time. It is therefore no surprise that natural, environmental and landscape protection are of great importance in the municipalities of Fischbach and Ludwigswinkel.

Multiple “adventure paths”, such as a wooden sculpture path, a barefoot path, a fairytale path and a “springs and wells”-tour were installed and strengthen the location for nature tourism. Additionally, the municipalities are equipped with attractive hiking paths and Nordic-Walking-trails. The biosphere house with its impressive treetop path allows pedagogic glimpses into flora and fauna of the region. The development concept “Dehner Rock World” and the concept for tourism important steps were taken towards this direction.

The future concepts were developed in 8 working groups with great participation of residents of all ages within the framework of a village moderation process. It was supported by external experts of various specialties. In a village renewal plan, important development regulations were defined and measures as well as projects concerning design and internal development of the municipalities. Individuals can make use of a free-of-cost advice programme for restoration and construction projects, which has great positive influence on the overall appearance of the townscape. Also worth mentioning are the successful attempts to secure the village cores as communication platforms and the careful and resource-friendly handling of the cultural and natural landscape.

The social and cultural commitment is executed by both clubs as well as the Daniel-Theyson-foundation, which mainly facilitates numerous projects for youth support. Generation specific and cross-generational offers, a high density of social establishments and cultural activities, initiated and executed by the population, are very popular and contribute to the the overall image of a residential are with high social life quality.

Another focal point is the usage of renewable energy sources through wood chip plants, large solar collectors and the production of electricity from wood. Street lights are equipped with LED.

The inter communal alliance of both municipalities, which resemble each other closely in terms of natural environment, economy and socio-culture,  is dedicated mainly to nature and landscape, tourism, renewable energy and social matters. This close and well structured cooperation allow for a high level of supply without creating double structures. All development plans are decided across municipalities. Fischbach and Ludwigswinkel are therefore role models for all of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The entirety of all projects reflects a  future-oriented, wholesome approach and a harmonic overall image. The implemented projects play an important role in the positioning of the municipalities and strengthen the tourism-oriented approach based on high natural quality and great cultural landscape attractiveness.

Therefore, Fischbach and Ludwingswinkel have been honoured with a European Village Renewal Award for sustainable, holistic and motto-adequate village development of excellent quality.