Bavarian Forest National Park - Germany

General Information
The Bavarian Forest National Park (Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald) was the first one to be established in Germany already in 1970. It covers an area of 24,250 ha. The most important peaks are Lusen (1373 m a.s.l.) and Großer Rachel (1453 m a.s.l.). The major land cover is by forest ecosystems either natural or previously managed. Around settlements, extensively managed grasslands occur that are rich in species. The region is rich in springs, brooks and rivers. Some natural lakes (e.g. Lake Rachel) and ponds that were supporting rafting in the past exist. Besides the deciduous and the conifer forests, wetlands and raised bogs are important habitats with high value for nature conservation.

The park is one of the very few examples of still natural forest ecosystems in Central European siliceous mountains. This type of mountains is widespread and covers large surfaces, but in other places human land use has modified the ecosystems substantially. Natural forests have become rare even in most remote mountain regions, where the rough climate with deep frost, large amounts of snow and a short vegetation period was never favourable for agriculture. Since medieval times, the exploitation of ore and the fabrication of glass were impacting on forest ecosystems via their tremendous energy consumption and the need for construction wood. In fact, such areas were dominated by industrial land use for long-time periods. During last centuries, forests started to be exploited by rafting. Construction wood was transported by the rivers downstream to the densely populated regions, where forests have been lost centuries ago. The large area of the Bavarian Forest, however, still preserved natural forest ecosystems at high elevations. Together with the neighbouring Sumava region across the border in the Czech Republic (also a national park) this is the largest area of closed forest in Central Europe.
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