Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
Established in 2004, 5,738 ha, size of the WHS component part 1,467 ha,
buffer zone 4,271 ha, Sea level: NLP198-626 m, WHS 245-626m
In the centre of Germany, south-west of Kassel, is an exceptional beech forest in terms of its size and nativeness to Germany. The peaceful and widespread landscape character of the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park is characterised by more than 50 mountains and peaks. Viewed from the air, the park looks like a sea of beech trees, the extensive ancient forests undissected by roads or settlements. A walk through the forest will be rewarded with frequent vistas of the winding lake Edersee, whose inlets appear almost fjord-like as they extend into the beech forests.
Beech forest type
The Kellerwald-Edersee National Park covers an area of 5,700 hectares and is home to the acidic-soil beech forest on argillaceous shale and greywacke (rocks created from sediment from primeval seas some 350 million years ago) that is typical of the central German low-mountain region. The predominant forest type is the wood-rush beech forest, often in barren or steep rocky formations. Over 40 percent of the beech trees are more than 120 years old. A 1,000 hectare area boasts beech stands that are more than 160 years old, in some cases up to 260 years old, and rich in dead wood.
Having remained remote from civilization and poorly accessible until the mid-19th century, broad swathes of these extensive forests were used as royal hunting grounds by the Princes of Waldeck and Pyrmont. Silvicultural use of the forest was never a priority, as parts of the landscape are steep and rocky, and therefore difficult to manage. The diversity of habitats for fauna and flora led to the area being earmarked as a nature conservation area as early as 1935. Over the decades that followed, usage was gradually discontinued in almost one-third of the region. In 1990, the majority of the area was designated a forest conservation area, and was finally declared a national park in 2004. In 2010, the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park became the first and only German national park to be certified IUCN Management Category II, having undergone an extensive analysis procedure.
On steep rocky slopes, the beech reaches its natural timber line, and forms bizarre forestscapes and primeval, mystic-looking shapes. The remains of natural primeval beech forests, thermophilous oak forests on rocks, as well as mixed deciduous forests on boulder fields and in canyons are to be found here. Some 800 crystal-clear springs and streams, rock vegetation and screes provide further valuable habitats.
Flora and fauna
The broad spectrum of habitats supports a large number of biotic commu- nities typical of a deciduous forest, with countless rare species. Black storks, eagle owls, red kites, honey buzzards and stock doves all breed in the National Park. Six species of woodpecker and 16 species of bat bear testimony to the structural richness of these ancient forests. Rare beetles such as the violet click beetle, which are considered primeval species, and the cheddar pink, 75 percent of whose global population is concentrated in Germany, are just some of its outstanding features.
The World Natural Heritage component part
The Kellerwald component part of the World Natural Heritage comprises the most representative, contiguous core areas of the National Park, and covers an area of 1,467 hectares.