In December 1997 the southern part of Hainich, with an area of 7,500 hectares, was declared Germany’s 13th National Park. Since then it has been been as a place of relaxation close to nature that is open to sustainable tourism. The area has gone through an amazing development which is quite unique.
As a further attraction, but also designed for environmental education and research, the first canopy walk way in an European National Park was initiated in the year 2005. The canopy walk way is located in the south eastern part of Hainich. A close-to-nature forest with about 10 tree species and many different structures in the closer surrounding can be experienced by a walk in the tree tops.
The canopy walk way consists of a tower with tree house and view point and a path 530 m long that begins at the tower and guides the visitor in two wide arches through the tree crows back to the tower. Impressive insights into the so far unknown world of tree crowns and the biology of the tree canopy are rendered possible. If you are lucky you will spot nesting birds, the protected middle spotted woodpecker or other animals. The view point on the top of the tower offers a rare view over the mosaic of the tree tops and the pleasant setting of the park.
The canopy walk way can be considered as a particular successful device, as one million visitors were counted in the first 5 years.
Hainich National Park is an impressive example of how, through sensible use of former military sites and common efforts of those involved, excellent opportunities for both nature and people can be created in a region at the heart of Europe. The tanks have disappeared and now people can enjoy the play of nature and feel the power of nature which shapes this forest. Trees of all sizes, colourfully mixed, strange forms, mighty tree veterans, lying and standing deadwood, covered in mosses, lichen and mushrooms – a piece of prospective “primeval forest in the centre of Germany”.
Pictures: Flickr © Hagenfrey58