Germany’s Ancient Beech Forests
They are really the original inhabitants of Europe: without human intervention, beech trees would still cover large areas of continental Europe. Today, unspoilt lowland beech forests are found nowhere else in the world but in Germany. The Ancient Beech Forests of Germany UNESCO World Natural Heritage site therefore offers a fascinating, romantic and incredibly diverse picture of the original European landscapes. They are an extension to the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians, an existing cross-border World Heritage property.
Romantic painters were inspired by the captivating backdrop of beech forests, chalk cliffs and seascapes in the modern-day Jasmund National Park on the island of Rügen. Due to their inaccessible clifftop location, these expanses of woodland have never been used for forestry purposes and now present a dynamic mosaic of open areas, thicket and genuine ancient woodland.
The beech forests in the Serrahn section of Müritz National Park in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are at the heart of the Mecklenburg Lakes region. For a long time, the grand dukes of Mecklenburg-Strelitz indulged their passion for hunting here, prohibiting any other use of the forest. This resulted in an enchanting hilly wooded landscape full of lakes and fens.
Just an hour’s drive from Berlin, Grumsin Forest in Brandenburg’s Schorfheide-Chorin biosphere reserve is a fascinating combination of sprawling forests and open countryside. The deep valleys and prominent peaks bear testament to the impact of glaciers in the last ice age.
The beech forests in Hainich National Park in Thuringia represent an important chapter in the history of the two Germanies. In the days of the GDR, the region was a restricted military area and this has allowed the flora and fauna to grow more or less undisturbed. Today, it boasts an impressive variety of tree species and a glorious carpet of blooms on the forest floor in spring.
The steep, rocky slopes of the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park in Hessen mark the natural border of the beech forests. Walkers will discover bizarre forest formations and mysterious-looking, gnarled trees here. The bays of twisting Lake Edersee, which extend far into the forests, are almost fjord-like.
Ancient Beech Forests of Germany
UNESCO World Heritage since 2011
From the selection criteria
They represent an outstanding example of undisturbed, complex temperate forests.
The areas protected as UNESCO World Natural Heritage exhibit the most complete and comprehensive ecological patterns and processes of pure stands of European beech across a variety of environmental conditions and represent all altitudinal zones from seashore up to the forest line in the mountains.
They are an outstanding example of the re-colonization and development of
terrestrial ecosystems and communities after the last ice age, a process which is still ongoing.