Hainich National Park
Established in 1997, 7,500 ha, size of the WHS component part 1,573 ha,
buffer zone 4,085 ha, Sea level: NLP 225-490 m, WHS 290-490 m
In the west of Thuringia, between Mühlhausen, Bad Langensalza and the Wartburg city of Eisenach, the beech forest puts on a dazzling display in spring, when the first rays of strong summer sunlight create enchanting carpets of blooms. Before the ramsons (bear’s garlic) the forest with its starry white flowers, the pinkish-lilac hollowroot (corydalis) carpets hundreds of hectares of forest floor. As soon as the ancient beech trees develop their foliage, the forest floor darkens again beneath the canopy, and the competition for light begins, with over 30 species of deciduous trees competing for their place in the sun alongside the dominant beech.
Beech forest type
Spanning an area of some 7,500 hectares, the Hainich National Park is a protected area of typical low-mountains beech forest on limestone. The wood barley beech forest is the predominant forest type here.
For decades, this area was a military no-go zone, which meant that large swathes of forest were left to develop undisturbed for several decades. However, enormous tracts of land were also cleared, providing an impressive example of natural afforestation. Since the National Park’s designation in 1997, all usage was discontinued, and central areas have remained untouched for some 50 years.
As well as extensive areas of shrubland, deciduous forests with a high pro- portion of dead wood also contain an exceptional wealth of species and structures. Hainich stands out for its wide diversity of tree species, and the size, intactness and form of its limestone beech forests are unrivalled.
Flora and fauna
Alongside the flora and fauna that are typical of mixed deciduous woodlands, Hainich is also home to a number of highly specialised species. Wild cats, Bechstein’s bats, middle spotted woodpeckers, highly endangered deadwood beetles, orchids and numerous species of fungus are all found here. The large areas of shrubland are home to rare species such as whinchats, barbed warblers, redbacked shrikes and wrynecks, along with numerous species of insect.
The World Natural Heritage component part
This component of the World Natural Heritage property incorporates the central areas of the National Park with their special ancient beech forests. Its extent and location reflects the broad spectrum of locations for forest ecosystems, and covers an area of some 1,573 hectares.