The Middle Rhine Valley is exceptionally rich in terms of its plant and animal life. Although it makes up a mere two ten-thousandths of the area of Germany, over a third of all vascular plants that grow in Germany can be found here. This is not only due to the natural diversity of the countryside, but primarily because of the centuries of agriculture that have taken place here. The open areas that resulted and the nearly Mediterranean climate have made it possible for many species to adapt to and flourish in the warm and dry climate. These species originally came from the Mediterranean and the steppes of south eastern Europe and were able to move north and west along the Rhine Valley. As a result, the flora and fauna that live here include emerald and wall lizards, praying mantises and kite swallowtails, as well as dittany and feather grass.
In the past decades, many of the traditional forms of agriculture have been abandoned. Particularly in the wine-growing regions, such back-breaking labour no longer pays off. Consequently, the open spaces quickly became overgrown. In fifty or perhaps a hundred years, the countryside will have returned to a forest state, and the richly structured open landscape will have disappeared.
Seen from a long-term perspective, the man-made landscape will only be maintained if extensive human use becomes profitable again. Possible ways of ensuring this include selling typical products of the region such as wine that that is produced growing the grapevines on steep slopes, fruit juice from orchards and meat products from untreated pastures.