This is a new series on the 16 national parks of Germany. Each park has its own characteristics and peculiarities that make it so special. In the posts in the coming weeks, I will explore these characteristics and peculiarities with you. In a last post, I will provide a little summary, give some statistics on the parks in Germany, and will elaborate on some debates around areas that have been qualified to become a Nationalpark, but due to all kinds of reasons did not make it.
Before we get into the parks, however, I will shortly explain what a Nationalpark in Germany is.
A Nationalpark is established mainly to protect a large, natural area and its ecological processes. At the same time, a Nationalpark is established to bring people closer to nature, educate them about it, do research, and of course, to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. Obviously, it is prohibited to harm these parks. This includes any economic activity, like hunting or farming. A Nationalpark is different from other kinds of nature protection, like a Naturschutzgebiet (Nature protection area). A Nationalpark is basically a step further, because there is also a great emphasis on recreation.
Basically, to be able to become a Nationalpark, an area must:
- Be large, mostly uncut, and of a special kind;
- Fulfill in a large part of it the requirements of a Naturschutzgebiet;
- Be influenced by humans as little as possible. For this last one, that may also be done when the park is already created. In fact, most parks do not even comply with these criteria yet all the way – but they are working towards it!
As the title of the post suggests, I will start with the Nationalpark Schwarzwald, which is located in the Schwarzwald (the Black Forest) in the southern Bundesland (Federal State) of Baden-Württemberg. The Schwarzwald is a well-known mountain range in Germany, but a part of it only became a Nationalpark very recently. On May 3, 2014, it opened its gates as the first Nationalpark in the Bundesland. It is split in two areas, because the city Forbach lies in between the two. The two parts together encompass around 100 km² (approximately 25,000 acres).
What is special about the Nationalpark Schwarzwald?
First and foremost, the vast woodlands and signature hill ranges of the Schwarzwald can be admired. The tall Fichten und Tannen (spruces and fir trees) grow closely together, which gave the forest its name: sunlight is sometimes barely let through, and thus it is a “Black Forest”.
There are wonderful paths and routes for hiking, and there are hundreds of activities organized by the Nationalpark every year that you can participate in, like guided tours and educational activities about the ecological system of the Nationalpark. During the winter, there are loipen prepared to go Langlaufen (cross-country skiing).
Last year, a wonderful project was realized: Abenteuer Schwarzwald. Photographers and Film makers returned each season to the Nationalpark to take the most beautiful shots of the park. On the website, you can see the final Ausstellung (exhibition) of pictures that were shot.
Also four videos were made: one for each season. Using drones and high-end cameras, some amazing footage was made, that really catches the beauty of the Nationalpark Schwarzwald!
I wanna go to the Schwarzwald now! What about you?