Bavarian Forest National Park (Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald)

Bavarian Forest National Park


Location: Bavaria Map

Area: 240 km2


Bavarian Forest National Park is locate in Bavaria region of Germany. Bavarian Forest National Park covers an area of 240 km2. Along with natural bio reserve on the side of the Czech Republic it comprises one of the largest continuous stretch of forest. Created in 1970, it was the first national park in Germany. Bavarian Forest is one of the few pristine virgin expanses from a massive Hercynian Forest that served as a natural boundary between the Roman Empire and Germanic tribes. The most popular time to visit Bavarian Forest National Park is usually in the summer months. It contains a hiking trail network with a total length of 186 miles or 300 kilometres and cycling paths with a total length of 124 miles or 200 kilometres. However winter period is just good as well. There are numerous trails available for cross- county skiing (total length of 50 miles or 80 kilometres), snowshoeing and other activities.


Silberberg Mine (Bavarian Forest National Park)

Open: March- Oct: 10am- 4pm daily
July-Aug: 9am- 4:45pm daily
Jan- March: 12- 2pm Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat
Admission fee: €5.50

Silberberg Mine is located about 2 km South East of Bodenmais within boundaries of Bavarian Forest National Park. Mining in the Silberberg (Silver mountain) began in the early 14th century (1311 or 1313). More than 60 different minerals and metals were mined here. Over centuries the underground system was expanded and improved. This mine was finally abandoned in 1962 and today it is open to the public. You can get to the bottom in the mountain and take a cable car to the top at the elevation of 955 meter (3,133 feet). You can take a hike that might take between an hour and two hours. There is also a petting zoo and children's playground near the entrance of the main mine.

A long 600 meter Barbara gallery leads tourists inside the mountain. The temperature gradually decreases and becomes fairly cool so taking warm clothes with you is important throughout a year. Eventually you reach a large hall called "Großer Barbaraverhau". Many mining tools and machines were left inside the galleries so you can trace their evolution.

Weißenstein Castle (Bavarian Forest National Park)

Weißenstein Castle is stands on a 758 meter high quartz rock in the district of Regen in Bavarian Forest. It was constructed in the 12th century by Earls von Bogen. After the family have died out it was sold to the Bavarian dukes. The citadel was badly damaged during the Thirty Years' War in 1633 by the maraudering Swedish troops.


The national park stretches along the main ridge of the Bavarian Forest from the Großer Falkenstein (1305 m) in the northwest over the Großer Rachel (1453 m) to the Lusen (1373 m) in the southeast.

According to the structure of the main natural spatial units of Germany, it belongs to the rear Bavarian Forest in the Upper Palatinate-Bavarian Forest group.

The national park is located in eastern Bavaria in the districts of Regen and Freyung-Grafenau along the border with the Czech Republic and today covers an area of ​​24,250 hectares (primeval) forest landscape in the low mountain range of the Bavarian Forest. It borders on the communities (from north to south): Bayerisch Eisenstein, Zwiesel, Lindberg, Frauenau, Spiegelau, Sankt Oswald-Riedlhütte, Neuschönau, Hohenau and Mauth. Part of the national park is located on the territory of the respective municipalities, and sometimes it is community-free areas.

In the national park area, especially on the edges, there are many enclaves:

Zwieslerwaldhaus at the foot of the Großer Falkenstein, belongs to the municipality of Lindberg.
Schleicher and Kreuzstraßl belong to Lindberg.
Neuhütte and Jägerfleck near Spiegelau
Guglöd, belongs to Sankt Oswald-Riedlhütte
Waldhäuser am Lusen, belongs to Neuschönau, the largest enclave of the national park
Altschönau, belongs to Neuschönau.
Sagwasser-Säge and Weidhütte, a coherent functional enclave that is connected to the rest of the country, but can only be reached via a road in the national park, belongs to Hohenau.
Glashütte, belongs to Hohenau.
There are also a few other enclaves, but they only include one or more small properties. These numerous enclaves, especially in the old area, mean that the border there is very long and the edge zone, in which bark beetle control is allowed, protrudes far into the interior of the park (see below for more details).

Geology and soils
The Bavarian Forest forms the southwestern edge of the very old basement area of ​​the Bohemian Massif. Together with the Black Forest and the Vosges it forms the central area of ​​the Central European Variscan Mountains. Their unfolding began in the Devonian geological age 416 million years ago, but was eroded into a low mountain range in the following ages. It was raised again as part of the Alpidic orogeny 100 million years ago (Earth Age Chalk).

The parent rocks are therefore paragneiss and crystal granites, which are mostly deeply weathered. The areas between Bayerisch Eisenstein and the Rachelsee consist of gneiss. Some granite deposits are scattered throughout the area.

In the ice ages (3 million to 13,000 years before today) the high elevations of the mountains were glaciated.

In accordance with this initial situation, strongly acidic brown soils, podsols and podsol brown soils dominate in the national park area. Small areas of brown earth are associated with raw soils and tendrils in the steep elevations.

The Bavarian Forest lies on the border between the maritime climate of Western Europe and the continental climate of Eastern Europe. Partly it is still under the influence of Atlantic westerly winds, partly continental south-east currents already dominate here. In summer the area is often on the eastern flank of western high pressure areas. Bad weather fronts approaching from the west and moist air from the Mediterranean area accumulate on the mountain ridge that extends from northwest to southeast. This leads to maximum precipitation in July and December / January. In winter the area is often under the influence of continental high pressure areas. The climate of the inner Bavarian Forest is characterized by cold, snowy winters and short, relatively warm summers. In winter, snow depths of over one meter regularly occur in the high areas, and in extreme cases they can reach three to four meters.

Habitat types
Zonal vegetation
In the national park, a typical zoning of the forests can be observed depending on the altitude:

High altitudes
The high altitudes or summit regions, which depending on the location between 1050 and 1250 m above sea level. NHN are the coldest with annual mean temperatures of two to five degrees Celsius. Precipitation ranges from 830 to 2280 mm per year and snow cover can last seven to eight months. The typical forest community of the high areas is the mountain spruce forest (Calamagrosti villosae-Picetum barbilophozitosum). The Norway spruce (Picea abies) occurs almost exclusively here. The rowanberry (Sorbus aucuparia) and the sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) are scattered to a small extent. The lower limit of the high-altitude forests is defined by the distribution limit of the common beech (Fagus sylvatica).


Types of herb and shrub layer (selection)
Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), seven star (Trientalis europaea), lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Pannonian gentian (Gentiana pannonica), forest saddle grass (Calamagrostis arundinacea), blue monkshood (Aconitum napellus), lichen.

The slopes between 700 and 1150 m above sea level are the climatically most favorable regions of the national park with annual mean temperatures of 4.4 to 7.2 degrees Celsius. The annual precipitation is between 830 and 1820 mm, the snow cover only lasts four to five months. Due to the favorable climatic conditions, mixed mountain forest grows there, one third of which would consist of red beech (Fagus sylvatica), silver fir (Abies alba) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) without human influence. In the list of natural forest communities, the mixed mountain forest is divided into thorn-fir-beech forest (Luzulo luzoloides-Fagetum) on the poorer and woodruff beech forest (Galio odorati-Fagetum) on the richer locations.

As a result of forestry, the silver fir was pushed back in the mixed mountain forests from 1850 because of its slow growth rate in favor of the beech and especially the common spruce. Furthermore, it was also massively affected by game browsing. Between 1960 and 1990, new types of forest damage ("forest dieback") also led to a massive loss of fir trees. This tree species is currently involved in forest development with less than five percent. However, their share in the rejuvenation is already nine percent, so that it will play a greater role in the future.

However, the fir does not taper well in open spaces such as the bark beetle areas. Here it is exposed to the risk of radiation frost and is particularly dependent on the spruce, but also the beech in growth. It depends on the balanced climate inside the forest. There it can hold out for several centuries in the under and intermediate conditions, in order to then be able to quickly grow into the upper class when light is supplied, for example by the death of an old tree. The prerequisite for this would be undisturbed forest development and larger stands that are in the decay stage.

Firs can live up to 600 years and thus live twice as long as beech and spruce. However, they grow much more slowly, but can reach heights of over 60 m. A high number of firs is therefore the prerequisite for the multi-level structure in the mixed mountain forest, which is desired for ecological reasons.

Since most of the old stands were destroyed due to the intensive forestry from 1850 to 1970, it will take several tree generations and therefore centuries of undisturbed forest development until the level of 1850 is reached again.

Types of herb and shrub layer (selection)
Raspberry (Rubus idaeus), fox's ragwort (Senecio ovatus), broad-leaved thorn fern (Dryopteris dilatata), common worm fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), rib fern (Blechnum spicant), narrow-leaved willow herb (Epilobium angustiferbolita), alpine milkweed Turks' Union (Lilium martagon), Mondviole (Lunaria), Spiked Christopher's herb (Actaea spicata L.), Hare lettuce (Prenanthes purpurea), Red elder (Sambucus racemosa).

Valley locations
The valley locations are between 600 and 800 m above sea level. The air flowing off from the higher altitudes accumulates in them, so that lakes of cold air often form there. The annual rainfall is 1030 to 1630 mm, the average annual temperatures are 3.7 to 6.5 degrees Celsius and the snow cover lasts between 5 and 6 months. In particular, the frequent occurrence of early and late frosts and extensive wet soils mean that the beech and other warmth-loving deciduous trees cannot survive there. The dominant forest community is the spruce forest (Calamagrosti villosae-Picetum bazzanietosum), in which the spruce is the predominant tree species. Hainsimsen-spruce-fir forest occurs on somewhat drier locations, where under natural conditions 50% spruce and white fir would grow. Adjacent tree species in the valleys are sand birch (Betula pendula), downy birch (Betula pubescens), mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia), black alder (Alnus glutinosa), gray or white alder (Alnus incana), various willow species (Salix), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) ) and mountain pine (Pinus mugo)

Types of herb and shrub layer (selection)
Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), forest riding grass (Calamagrostis arundinacea), ferns, mosses

Azonal vegetation
In addition to the forests, which are graded according to altitude, there are also other vegetation communities at special locations:

Canyon forests

In deep gorges such as the Höllbachgspreng there are canyon forests where, in addition to spruce, beech and fir, there are also numerous deciduous trees, including sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), Norway maple (Acer plantanoides), sycamore elm (Ulmus glabra), common ash (Fraxinus excelsior), summer linden ( Tilia platyphyllos), winter linden (Tilia cordata), bird cherry (Prunus avium) and the yew (Taxus baccata).

Raised bogs
Under cold and damp conditions, large amounts of rotten plant material have accumulated in the valley basins affected by cold air as well as in some plateau and saddle areas, which could not be completely broken down due to the short vegetation periods. Over the centuries, meter-high layers of peat formed, which became increasingly isolated from the ground and surface water. The water supply in these raised bogs can only come from the very nutrient-poor rainwater. Very few plants that are well adapted to these conditions can survive under these conditions. a. Peat moss (Sphagnum).

Plant species in a typical raised bog of the Bavarian Forest:

Edge lagg or edge hanging: Spruce bog forest (Picea abies) with blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus), areas further inward: Mountain pine forest (Pinus mugo) with downy birch (Betula pubescens), sand birch (Betula pendula), Scots pine (Pinus sylvatica), mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia), buckthorn (Frangula alnus), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), bogberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), cotton grass (Eriophorum), common heather (Calluna vulgaris), rosemary heather (Andromeda polifolia), Senecio paludosus), swamp louse weed (Pedicularis palustris), swamp porst (Rhododendron tomentosum).
Bog width: Above all peat moss (Sphagnum), sundew (Drosera), common cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos), bogberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), downy birch (Betula pubescens), mountain pine (Pinus mugo, often crippled), dwarf birch (Betula nana).
Many moors have been drained and peat has been extracted over the centuries. After placing it under protection, the national park administration is trying to renaturalize and rewet these valuable habitats, but with varying degrees of success.

Tree species composition
In the forest inventory 2002/03 the following tree species composition was found in the upper class. It becomes clear that the spruce is represented far more frequently than the potential natural vegetation, while the fir is almost entirely absent.

fauna and Flora
Many rare animal species have been preserved in the national park or have been resettled there. These include rare species such as the lynx (Lynx lynx), European wildcat (Felis silvestris), beaver (Castor fiber), otter (Lutra lutra), pug bat (Barbastella barbastellus), Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteini), and great mouse-eared mouse (Myotis myotis) , just like other typical inhabitants of the Bavarian Forest. These include the red deer, of which around two thirds spend the winter in a gate because they want to avoid excessive browsing damage in the mountain forest. You can even find moose coming over from the Lipno reservoir in the Czech Republic.

The last wild lynxes were exterminated in the Bavarian Forest around 1850. In the 1970s, five to ten lynxes were released in the area of ​​the national park, and in the 1980s, 17 animals in the then ČSSR in the Bohemian Forest (Šumava). Initially, the lynx population increased sharply (an estimated 70 to 100 animals). In the period from 1995 to 2008 the lynx population decreased significantly. There were illegal killings on the Czech side and also on the Bavarian side.

Brown bears (Ursus arctos) no longer live in the wild in the national park.

In 2016, a wild wolf couple (Canis lupus) immigrated to the Bavarian Forest and had young in 2017.

The deer in the national park

The lack of large predators makes it necessary to regulate the population of red deer (Cervus elaphus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) through hunting in order to keep the browsing of forest trees, especially the silver fir, under control. Around two thirds of the red deer are kept in four winter fences, which are surrounded by inaccessible game reserves. Individual specimens are hunted there, but also in other places, in order to avoid increased damage in the surrounding private forests. The red deer are still shy and nocturnal, probably because of the hunting pressure. Nature conservation associations and the national park management have (as of 2004) looked for alternatives. According to the national park administration, the red deer should stay in the lower-lying commercial forests in winter. Winter gates would then be dispensable. However, the proposal failed due to the resistance of the hunting officials and the landowners.

Many rare bird species live in the national park: capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), hazel grouse (Bonasa bonasia), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), black stork (Ciconia nigra) and pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum).

The population of the now very rare capercaillie has steadily declined since 1945 despite all protective measures. At that time 250 birds were counted, in 1984 only 16. Between 1982 and 2000 534 capercaillies were released into the wild. Nevertheless, the population has hardly increased. In 2005, the population in the entire national park was estimated at 23 to 30 chickens. There may be more capercaillies in the Šumava National Park. The cause of the decline is not entirely clear; Actually, the varied landscape with a high proportion of border lines should appeal to the birds. They may be very disturbed by the tourists' dogs running freely.

So far, over 1,800 species of beetles have been recorded in the national park, including 14 “primeval forest relic species”, very rare insects such as the billy goat (Tragosoma depsarium), which only occur in near-natural forests rich in dead wood.

Rare and endangered plant species that occur in the national park are: Pannonian gentian (Gentiana pannonica), mountain soldanelle (Soldanella montana), blue tarant (Swertia perennis), forest grove (Luzula sylvatica), multi-part moon rue (Botrychium multifidum) , Green Koboldmoss (Buxbaumia viridis) and Green Besenmoos (Dicranum viride).

40% of the mosses found in Germany are distributed in the Bavarian Forest National Park.

Over 2000 species of mushrooms have been identified in the national park.

Forest and nature conservation history
In the period of the older Dryas (11,490-11,400 BC) the mountains of the Bavarian Forest were covered by tundra vegetation, if not glaciated. Only towards the end of this period do pollen analyzes show the emergence of shrub vegetation made up of juniper (Juniperus) and low willow species (Salix).

In the Alleröd Interstadial (11,400-10,730 BC), light birch (Betula) and pine forests (Pinus) dominated and became thicker over time. Herb vegetation declined.

In the Younger Dryas (10.730–9700 BC) late glacial herbaceous meadows developed again under a sparse pine forest with interspersed birches and junipers.

In the Preboreal (9700-8690 BC) pollen analyzes show a closed pine forest with birch and poplar trees (Populus). There was a mass spread of the hazelnut (Corylus avellana). The herbaceous vegetation that needed light and the junipers declined. During this period there was a slow immigration of Norway spruce (Picea abies), elm (Ulmus), oak (Quercus) and alder (Alnus). Initially, these only had a small share in the forest structure.

In the Boreal (8690–7270 BC) the pine and birch forests were pushed back in lower elevations by mixed oak forests of oak, elm, linden (Tillia), hazelnut and in the higher areas by spruce forests. In the middle of the boreal, the hazelnut spread reached its peak, after which this shrub steadily declined. The alders spread over large areas in the floodplains of the valley.

The humid and warm Atlantic (7270–3710 BC) forms the Holocene climatic optimum.


In the now tightly closed forests of the valley and hillside areas, mixed oak forests of oak, linden, elm and ash (Fraxinus) predominated. Pine and birch fell. The hazelnut still played a significant role in the development of the forest, but also steadily declined in the course of the Atlantic. Above 900 meters, the mixed oak forest was pushed back by the spruce.

In the second half of the Atlantic, the common beech (Fagus sylvatica) immigrated and displaced the mixed oak forest, especially linden and elm. The canopy was now so tightly closed that the herbaceous vegetation receded again. In the Bavarian Forest beech and spruce forests dominated, above 1050 meters almost pure spruce forests. During this period the silver fir (Abies alba) first appeared sporadically. Now warmth-loving shrubs and trees such as elder (Sambucus), ivy (Hedera helix), mistletoe (Viscum) and the European yew (Taxus baccata) appeared.

Pollen analyzes show that in the warm and humid period of the late Atlantic, the fir in the Bavarian Forest expanded at the expense of the spruce, while the proportion of the beech did not change. In contrast to the current period, there were dense spruce-fir-beech forests in the higher elevations, with the red beech noticeably and the fir only slightly receding compared to the conditions in the lower elevations.

In the slopes and valleys there were beech-fir forests without spruce. The latter tree species was pushed back on extremely wet and poor soils in the valleys. Elm, linden, ash, hazelnut and maple only grew on special locations such as ravines. Oak trees were only found below 500 meters. Relatively high proportions of pine pollen show that back then, as an Ice Age relic, there were probably much larger pine bushes (Pinus mugo) in the highest elevations than today. The hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) also appeared in the Bavarian Forest for the first time. However, it always had only a very small share in the development of the forest.

Post-heating time
In the post-warming period, the subboreal (3750-450 BC), the climate deteriorated, it became colder and drier (more continental). The Norway spruce (Picea abies) now spread more at the expense of the beech and fir.

At the beginning of the subatlantic (450 BC to the present day) the fir had a larger share at all altitudes than in 1850, the beginning of modern forestry.

In the following centuries the proportion of fir and beech trees slowly declined in favor of spruce. Particularly since the Little Ice Age around 1300, the recent tree species distribution described in the Ecology chapter has emerged.

The causes of the tree species sequence described were, on the one hand, climate changes. The successive immigration of different tree species also played an important role. Climatic conditions allowed a larger number of tree species to grow. Among these, the most competitive prevailed. In the Bavarian Forest it was the fir, beech and spruce, while other species such as oak, which could also grow in this area, were displaced.

Hercynian Forest
At the turn of the ages Celtic population groups lived in Lower Bavaria on the Danube, but the Bavarian Forest, referred to by the Romans as the Herkynischer Wald, was a completely deserted forest wilderness.

This is also shown by pollen analyzes. Since the subboreal pollen of the plantain plantain (Plantago lanceolata) has been found in the bogs, but no grain pollen whatsoever. The former were blown over 50 km from the long-settled Danube plain. Grain pollen, on the other hand, does not fly that far. They could only be detected in medieval horizons.

North forest
In the Middle Ages - advancing eastwards from the Danube - the clearing and reclamation of the outer and inner Bavarian Forest, now known as the northern forest, began by Christian monks. The Niederaltaich monasteries were established in 741, Rinchnach in 1011, Gotteszell in 1286 and St. Oswald in 1396. Further clearings were made on the trade routes to Bohemia. Some villages were founded with the necessary infrastructure for the traders, such as taverns, saddleries and farriers. “This first settlement activity had created clearing islands in the sea of ​​forests, but it did not change the substance of the forest.” Due to the need for firewood and construction wood, the huge wood stocks were by far not fully used even in the vicinity of the few human settlements.


In the 13th century the Bavarian dukes and later electors settled glassmakers. This took place first in the outer and in the 15th century also in the inner Bavarian Forest. The raw materials in the form of wood and quartz needed for glass production were in abundance. Most places in today's national park region owe their creation to the glassworks, including Riedlhütte, Neuschönau and Weidhütte. The glassworks forest in the vicinity of the glassworks was used intensively. However, only the logs that were well suited for processing and transport were removed, so that there were no complete clear cuts. If the usable forest in the vicinity of a glassworks was used up, it was simply relocated to another location. It was not possible to transport wood over long distances. Potash to lower the melting temperature of the glass was obtained by Koehler in forests further away, as it could be easily transported. Around 1850, the beginning of modern forestry, only border forests were left in a somewhat natural state. These later formed the national park.

Modern forest management (1850–1969)
From 1850 the rights of the glassworks owners were replaced and the forests of the Bavarian Forest were managed for forestry purposes. The forests in the valleys were completely felled, the soil drained and converted into spruce plantations. On the slopes, the method of plenter and femel fell was initially practiced, where some trees were left standing as hoppers. At this point in time, however, most of the young, regrowing fir trees were removed as part of the so-called "pre-growth pattern", so that their proportion decreased considerably. The actual mountain locations were still used relatively little. To remove the wood, the mountain streams were straightened and so-called Klausen, i.e. reservoirs, were created. At the time of the spring floods, they were drained so that the water level was sufficient to float large trunks into the valley (Trift). Most of these clauses are still preserved. They form an insurmountable barrier for migratory fish.

Around 1900, the so-called pure soil yield theory prevailed in Bavarian forestry. After that, the remaining jungle-like stocks were excess stocks, which had long been "unproductive" due to their growth behavior. According to this teaching, the goal had to be to cut down such stands as quickly as possible and replace them with rapidly growing spruce stands. That was also decided in 1910. Between 1910 and 1950, almost all of the remaining primeval forest remnants of the mountain and hillside locations were de facto destroyed using the deforestation method. Only from 1950 did they return to the Saumfemelschlag. At that time, forests over 100 years only took up 21.6% of the area of ​​the later national park.

The last brown bear in the Bavarian Forest was shot in 1833, the last wolf in 1846 and the last lynx in 1850. Originally hardly any deer and roe deer lived in the later national park area. These were only promoted for hunting purposes from 1850 through winter feeding and the extermination of the great predators. As a result, the browsing load of forest trees, especially the silver fir, increased and significantly hindered their regeneration.

First nature reserves
Towards the end of the 19th century it became apparent that the majestic, wild high forests of the Bavarian Forest with their huge tree specimens, which Adalbert Stifter described in his novels, would be a thing of the past in the foreseeable future. For the first time it was demanded that at least some particularly striking remains of the primeval forest should be preserved. The Höllbachgspreng was therefore placed under protection as early as 1914, the Mittelsteighütte primeval forest area in 1939 and the Hans-Watzlik-Hain with its huge silver fir trees in 1950.

National park
The first demands for the establishment of a large nature reserve in the Bavarian Forest appeared as early as 1911 in the Lower Bavarian monthly magazines. At the end of the 1930s / beginning of the 1940s, the plans for the creation of a national park, of which Lutz Heck was one of the proponents, were well advanced, but had to be postponed due to the war. It was not until 1966 that these plans were renewed on the initiative of Bernhard Grzimek and the Bund Naturschutz in Bayern under Hubert Weinzierl. The Bavarian Ministry of Agriculture and the State Forestry Administration initially had concerns. In the press as well as on radio and television, sometimes heated discussions began about the meaning and character of the project.


On September 6, 1967, the official founding meeting of the association for the promotion of the Bavarian Forest National Park project took place in Grafenau. On June 11, 1969, the Bavarian State Parliament unanimously decided to establish the Bavarian Forest National Park in the Rachel-Lusen area. The old national park had a size of 13,229 hectares. On November 2, 1969, the Bavarian Forest National Park Office began its work in Spiegelau. It was ceremoniously opened in Neuschönau on October 7, 1970 by Minister of State Hans Eisenmann.

Even after the establishment of the national park, forestry was initially permitted in a reduced form for years. The aim was to create and maintain a forest suitable for the location with a stable, stepped structure, the conversion of all non-location-appropriate forest parts and the removal of foreign tree species such as the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Existing remains of the jungle should be preserved. The harvest age was no longer based on the maximum income, but on the maximum physical age and the health of the trees. Endangered and rare tree species such as the silver fir were to be promoted. However, the new types of forest damage ("forest dieback") led to an incremental depression and a further decline in this tree species, which is very sensitive to sulfur dioxide. The large combustion plant ordinance made it possible to significantly reduce sulfur dioxide emissions in the late 1980s. Therefore, the growth performance and vitality of the silver fir began to increase again during this time and has now reached the level before the forest dieback.

In 1983 the timber industry was stopped in a reserve area in the interior of the national park with an area of ​​6,500 ha. In 1992, according to the new National Park Ordinance, regular forestry was completely ended. Trees infested by bark beetles may only be felled in a 500 m wide border strip to protect the adjacent commercial forests.

The bark beetle in the national park
When a thunderstorm on August 1, 1983 and another storm in November of the same year felled around 70,000 cubic meters of wood, Minister Hans Eisenmann decided not to intervene in the natural forest development in the new reserve areas. A "primeval forest for our children and grandchildren" should be created. Even in extreme events such as storm throws and bark beetle infestation, the natural development continues.

In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, violent storms led to numerous other wind breaks, which suddenly created favorable living conditions for the printer (Ips typographus) belonging to the bark beetle subfamily. This is a dreaded forest pest that had already attacked large areas in the Bavarian Forest in earlier centuries. In the following years, the printer population increased so much that even healthy, standing spruce fell victim to the severe infestation. Individual “bug holes” widened and finally merged into large fronts.

In the years from 1995 to 2005, between 367 and 827 hectares of spruce forest area were infested by the bark beetle. In the meantime, the focus of mass reproduction has been exceeded in the old area. However, the old spruce trees in the high-altitude forest have almost completely died. In the mixed mountain forest areas around the beetle fronts and in the more local “beetle holes”, the spruce trees have died selectively, while beech and, more rarely, silver fir are left over and are now using the improved light.

The mass increase of the book printer (Ips typographus) was favored in the 1990s by several warm years. Since 1995 there have been days with temperatures above 20 degrees in the high elevations every year in April and May, so that the printer could swarm out. Only this early swarming time enables several generations of beetles to form in one summer and thus mass reproduction. This development is certainly related to global warming. It is possible that the spruce trees were also weakened by new types of forest damage and thus predisposed to attack.


In parts of the population, the inaction ordered by the national park administration met with incomprehension; the neighboring forest farmers feared for their own, economically used stock. Others, on the other hand, saw the bark beetle as a helper to transform commercial forests with susceptible monocultures into strong mixed forests, the best precaution against future infestation. After the old coniferous forest cultures were largely dead, the numbers of bark beetles decreased significantly and in many places regrowing mountain ash, spruce and beech trees have formed a young forest. These new trees had already reached a height of 70 cm in 2004 (September 2015: up to 4–5 m in the ridge layers; partly gaps and depending on the occurrence of older, seed-forming spruce trees that are still alive; in the lower areas the young forest is much denser and the beech seems to gain significantly in area compared to the spruce).

There are several associations in the Bavarian Forest in which national park opponents and national park supporters have come together. Since it has become apparent that the dead forest is rejuvenating and tourism has not been affected, the number of critics of the national park administration has declined.

Effects of global warming
Forests of medium and higher latitudes show a particularly high susceptibility to climate change. Accordingly, global warming is already having a significant impact on the Bavarian Forest.

In 2018, the mean monthly temperature in April was already 4 ° C warmer than 45 years ago. As a consequence of the rise in temperature and the lack of precipitation, massive spruce death can be observed. The trees weakened by the drought stress are susceptible to the bark beetles, which multiply rapidly due to the high temperatures, and can no longer withstand storms.

National park extension
On July 10, 1997, the national park was enlarged by 10,950 ha (109.5 km²) by a resolution of the Bavarian State Parliament. Essentially, the Falkenstein area of ​​the former Zwiesel Forestry Office was added to the National Park; In addition, some forests near the Frauenau drinking water reservoir that were previously privately owned: 460 hectares could be acquired from the property of Baron von Poschinger and 504 hectares were exchanged for the national park from the property of Baron von Wolffersdorf.

Fearing that the forests of the Großer Falkenstein will also die out, u. a. Protests against the extension of the national park. In the affected communities (Bayerisch Eisenstein, Frauenau, Lindberg and Zwiesel) there were sometimes violent protests with demonstrations against the planned extension of the national park to the area of ​​the Regen district, for example on the town square in Zwiesel on July 1, 1995 with around 1500 participants . In April 1996 in Frauenau there was a referendum to extend the national park. 73 percent voted against a national park extension.

Due to the lack of responsibility of the municipalities, the expansion by 12,500 hectares was nevertheless carried out. Due to the protests of the opponents of the national park, however, in § 14 "High-altitude forest" of the National Park Ordinance of September 12, 1997 the provision was included that the high-altitude forest should be preserved in its substance and function and therefore the expansion of the bark beetle to the forests of the Avoid high elevations between Falkenstein and Rachel. As a result of this regulation, the bark beetle in the extension area is being fought heavily in some cases by clear-cutting by felling affected spruce trees. In particular, the use of large machines to transport wood has been criticized by the Federation of Nature Conservation in Bavaria, among others. The clear cuts to control bark beetles resulted in "2,000 hectares of largely treeless, stepped land" in the national park. This corresponds to 8% of the national park area. From a completely different point of view, around 100 supporters of the “Citizens' Movement for the Protection of the Bavarian Forest” illegally planted 500 spruce seedlings on a bare area between Großem Falkenstein and Lakaberg as part of a protest against the national park's bark beetle policy.

Special features in the national park

At 1,453 m, the Rachel is the highest mountain in the national park and the second highest mountain in the Bavarian Forest as a whole (after the Arber at 1,456 m). Mixed mountain forest extends up to approx. 1150 m and above this limit there is mountain spruce forest, which has almost completely died off due to bark beetle infestation. Unlike in the Lusen area, the rejuvenation is relatively low here. The reason for this is that the high-altitude forests only died after the spruce was fully fattened in 1995, so that larger fern and grass facies have already formed, which hindered the germination of spruce seeds. The larger proportions of altitudes above 1250 m in the Rachel massif and the predominant block humus soil make regeneration even more difficult. [34]

The Rachelsee is located at an altitude of 1071 m. It was formed by a moraine wall after the last ice age. The Rachel Chapel is located on the Rachelsee wall at a height of 1212 m. There is an ice age information trail south of Lake Rachel. The original jungle has been preserved on the east bank of the Rachelsee on the Seewand (former NSG).

The Rachel can be reached from the hikers' car parks in Gfall and Racheldiensthütte. You are regularly approached by the IGEL buses in the summer months, the roads leading to them are closed to car traffic. Another, considerably longer route leads from Frauenau to Rachel.

The 1373 m high Lusen is located in the eastern part of the national park right on the border with the Czech Republic. Mixed mountain forest extends up to 1250 m, above which there is mountain spruce forest, which has also died due to bark beetle infestation. In contrast to the Rachel area, significantly larger proportions of young spruce are covered, some of which have reached heights of several meters even in the summit region. The uppermost summit area of ​​the Lusen is occupied by a silicate rubble dump. The rocks are overgrown with lichen, v. a. with the map lichen (Rhizocarpon geographicum). Slightly below the summit there is a pine bush (Pinus mugo).

The Lusen can be reached from the Fredebrücke and Lusen hikers' car parks, which are approached by the IGEL buses. A mountain stream nature trail has been laid out west of the summit on the Kleine Ohe. Nearby is the Teufelsloch, a rock rubble slope and the steep summer path that leads directly to the summit of the Lusen.

Great Falkenstein
The 1315 m high Falkenstein is the highest mountain in the extension area of ​​the national park. An ascent leads through the Höllbachgspreng, a steep gorge in which the original gorge forest has been preserved. In contrast to the old area, the mountain spruce forests in the Falkenstein massif have not died off except in windthrow areas (Hurricane Kyrill, 2007).

Primeval forest areas at the Zwieslerwaldhaus
To the east of the Zwieslerwaldhaus below the Falkenstein is the 38 hectare Mittelsteighütte primeval forest area with huge old spruce, fir and beech trees. To the west of it lies the eleven-hectare Hans-Watzlik-Hain, named after the ethnic writer Hans Watzlik, with the thick fir tree (also called Westhütter Tanne), which has a trunk circumference of 6.4 meters and a height of 52 m. This makes it the strongest tree in the Bavarian Forest. Their age is estimated to be 600 years. In the Hans-Watzlik-Hain there are also numerous other large trees of the species spruce, beech and fir.

Shafts and felts near Buchenau
Between the Rachel and the Falkenstein near Buchenau there are several shafts and felts, i.e. former forest pastures with many old, isolated trees and moors. The Latschenfilz moorland with a mountain pine moor and the Latschensee is particularly interesting. Nearby are the Kohlschachten and the Große Schachten.

Rock hiking area
The rocky hiking area near Neuschönau consists of numerous bizarre rock debris around the mountains Kanzel (1002 m) and Kleine Kanzel (1011 m). The surrounding forest is so difficult to walk in that it could only be used for forestry with great difficulty. That is why many old trees, especially silver firs, have been preserved. All forest use has been suspended since 1970. In the meantime, the rocky hiking area has developed a long way back towards the jungle, the old spruce trees have partly died off due to bark beetle infestation. A little further north of the rocky hiking area is the Großalmeyerschloß mountain (1196 m).

Great felt
The Große Filz is located near Sankt Oswald-Riedlhütte at an altitude of approx. 750 m (Diensthüttenstraße car park). A boardwalk leads through the edges of the moor. Spruce bog forest dominates here, further inside mountain pine forest with dwarf shrubs, common heather (Calluna vulgaris) and peat moss. The moorland is not directly accessible, but can be observed from an observation tower.

National park concept and management

The aim of the national park is to “let nature be nature”, as stipulated in Section 24 of the BNatSchG. The main area of ​​the national park is to protect nature and thus also the dynamic processes in the forests. In over 11,000 hectares (43 percent of the area), people no longer intervene in the natural process at all. This proportion is gradually being increased to over 75% and thus corresponds to the international requirements for a national park.

To ensure that the natural processes in the national park do not have any undesirable effects on neighboring areas, the national park area was divided into zones:

The nature zone makes up 71.2% of the area of ​​the old area (AG) and 10.3% of the area of ​​the extension area (EC) (2017: 68% of the total area; source: Activity Report 2017). Here people no longer intervene at all, not even in the event of catastrophic events such as wind breakage and bark beetle infestation. Only the hiking trails are kept open.
In the peripheral zone (26.5% AG, 16.0% EG), bark beetle control is taking place permanently to protect the surrounding forests. Otherwise the edge zone is not used for silviculture either.
Tourist offers such as national park centers and animal enclosures are concentrated in the recreation zone. It accounts for 2.3% of the AG and 1.0% of the EC.
The expansion zones are only on the ground floor and make up 72.6% there. The forests are to be gradually left to natural use by 2017. Existing uses resulting from third party rights (recesses) should be replaced as quickly as possible. Bark beetle control will remain permissible until 2027.
The division of the national park into core and peripheral zones is independent of this. In the core zones, which mainly include the high elevations, but also the Mittelsteighütte primeval forest area, the Großer Filz near Riedlhütte and the rocky hiking area, there are strict trails. In the edge zone, the forest can also be entered outside the paths.

In 1972 the national park received international recognition from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). In 1986 the Council of Europe awarded the category A European diploma (last extended in 2006 to 2011).

In Germany only one national park, the Bavarian Forest National Park, was awarded a Transboundary Park certificate for exemplary cross-border cooperation with the Czech National Park Šumava in 2009.

The national park administration has around 200 employees, the headquarters are in Grafenau.

Head of the National Park Administration:
1970–1979 Hans-Heinrich Vangerow
1979–1998 Hans Bibelriether
1998–2011 Karl Friedrich Sinner
since 2011 Franz Leibl

Behavior in the national park
According to the National Park Ordinance, some special rules of conduct apply to visitors in the National Park:

The marked paths must not be left in the core areas. Exception: Between July 15 and November 15, the unmarked paths and paths in the core zone may also be used. Outside the core zone, the forest is freely accessible all year round.
It is forbidden to let dogs run free.
Tents and open fires are only allowed in places specifically marked for this.
Cycling is also only permitted on approved trails.
Riding is prohibited in the national park.
Most roads in the national park are closed to motor traffic in summer.
It is forbidden to leave rubbish in the national park.
Noise and loud music playing is prohibited.
Plants and animals may not be removed from the national park. Berries and mushrooms can be harvested for personal use, provided that the road rules are observed.

National Park Guard
The main task of the approx. 30 rangers of the National Park Guard is to enforce the provisions of the National Park Ordinance, in particular the traffic restrictions in the core zones, and to ensure that visitors' dogs do not roam (repressive function). In 2009, the rangers issued 1,851 instructions and filed 118 criminal charges.

They also offer guided tours and answer questions from tourists. Another task of the rangers is to check the accessibility of the paths and the safety of the visitor facilities. They provide first aid in emergencies.

Educational institutions in the national park
National Park Centers
Lusen National Park Center

On July 5, 1982, Minister of State Eisenmann handed over the information center near Neuschönau, today the Hans Eisenmann House, to its intended use. There is an exhibition on the history of the national park. The treetop path in the Bavarian Forest National Park as well as an animal, plant and stone outdoor area are located near the Hans Eisenmann House.

In the animal outdoor area, current and formerly resident animals such as otters, owls, wild cats, lynxes, eagle owls, bison, elk, red deer, wild boar, brown bear and wolf are housed in open enclosures.

Falkenstein National Park Center
The information center “Haus zur Wildnis” of the Bavarian Forest National Park, built in 2005, and a 65-hectare animal enclosure are located near Ludwigsthal. Since 2006, animal species that have become extinct in Central Europe such as wild horses and primitive cattle (back-breeding) can be observed here, as well as wolves and lynxes.

Entry to the national park information centers and the animal open areas is free. However, visitors are not guaranteed to see all the animals in the extensive enclosures. Fees are charged for the parking spaces. The national park centers can also be reached with the IGEL buses.

In the night of Friday, October 6, 2017, six wolves were released from the enclosure of the Falkenstein National Park Center near Ludwigsthal. A wolf was killed that night by a train on the nearby forest railway line. The exact background was initially unclear. In the meantime there has been increasing evidence that the gate was manipulated by third parties. Unfortunately, two of the animals had to be killed because anesthesia rifles could not be used. A she-wolf padded into one of the live traps and is back in the enclosure. Because they are less shy, they are more dangerous to humans than wild wolves. The exemption under species protection law to catch the two wolves that were still on the run expired on February 1, 2018. The search for them has been stopped.

Youth forest home
The youth forest home near Neuschönau, which opened in 1974, currently offers 55 places for school classes and youth groups. In addition to its conservation function, the national park also has the task of informing its visitors and especially young people about natural relationships. The youth forest home offers a standard program for children of primary and middle school age. For older children in grades five to eight, an attractive program with hikes (rock hiking area, Lusen, animal open-air area), visits to the Hans Eisenmann House and the treetop path and a national park experience day has been worked out. In the latter, the children should experience with all their senses what wild nature means. You will e.g. For example, you are encouraged to hug a tree blindfolded, to listen to and identify sounds of nature or to paint the different shades of green of the plants. In addition to the standard program, classes and groups can also implement their own projects that they have developed themselves if they have something to do with the national park.

Wilderness camp
The wilderness camp at Falkenstein near Zwieslerwaldhaus is operated according to a slightly different concept than the youth forest home. Overnight stays are in small groups in themed or country huts. The concept for children and adolescents consists in the fact that the small groups independently develop projects during the stay that are thematically related to the respective overnight hut. The focus here is on experiencing nature and imparting knowledge about the national park. A stay is also possible for groups of adults or families.

Teaching and adventure trails
The following educational and adventure trails exist in the national park:
Aufichtenwaldsteig near Spiegelau
Treetop path in the Bavarian Forest National Park
Ice Age nature trail at Rachelsee
Schachten und Filze adventure trail: circular walk around the Hochschachten, the Latschenfilz with the Latschensee and the Kohlschachten
Seelensteig on the Großer Rachel near the Gfung car park: in a typical mixed forest of fir, beech and spruce, a forest that has not been used for 50 years is being made accessible in a natural way. Thoughts of important writers on the forest are communicated in text panels.
Primeval forest adventure trail in the Hans-Watzlik-Hain near Zwieslerwaldhaus
Forest history nature trail near Finsterau
Wildbach nature trail on the Kleine Ohe near Lusen


Forest playground
According to the motto “Understanding nature by playing”, the forest playground near Spiegelau offers numerous playgrounds, a nature adventure trail and a forest meadow with barbecue facilities in a 50-hectare park-like forest area.

Man and forest
In the attitude of people towards the Bavarian Forest National Park, two diametrically different points of view can be identified.

Traditional view
According to the traditional view, which is still shared by many of the region's older inhabitants, primeval forests are considered to be a dangerous and threatening wilderness. It stands in absolute opposition to the values ​​of civilization and must therefore be kept in check.

For centuries, the inhabitants of the Bavarian Forest, called Waidler, lived from the forest (firewood and construction wood, glass, potash, hunting, collecting berries and mushrooms, etc.) , Bears, lynxes, etc., which in their ideas represented the untamed wilderness, exterminated. Therefore, the establishment of the national park and even more the cessation of forestry amounted to a cultural revolution. For many older residents of the region, the wild, completely unordered forest is like a "heap of pigs". Christian ideas such as the commandment "Subdue the earth" also play an important role in this very religious region.

Modern perspective
In the 19th century - inspired by Romanticism - perspectives appeared for the first time that emphasized the beauty of the old high forest with its huge ancient trees. The work of the writer Adalbert Stifter (1805–1868) should be mentioned here in particular. The following quote comes from a description of the Bavarian Forest:

“Waldwoge stands behind Waldwoge until one is the last and cuts the sky. It is great when mountains of clouds lie in the sky and interrupt this sea of ​​forest with patches of blue shadow. If you can call a magnificent view of the Alps a lively lyrical poem, the simplicity of this forest is a measured epic one. "

Since the wild high forest was reduced more and more by modern forestry, it now appeared as something valuable and worth protecting. At the beginning of the 20th century, demands were first discussed to put these old forests under protection. First of all, only relatively small protected areas could be designated. When the national park was established in 1969, most of the primeval forests had already been destroyed.

The modern view was initially only represented by a few intellectuals, biologists and ecologists. It only became a mass phenomenon in the 1980s in the context of the ecological movement and discussions about forest death. Since 2000, more and more people have valued wilderness and national parks as a counterbalance to an over-engineered world. However, in the national park region itself, many residents still cling to the traditional ideas of wilderness.

Current developments
This background perhaps explains the violent reactions in the local population to the inaction of the national park administration during the massive bark beetle infestation in the 1990s.

An ordinance was issued on September 17, 2007, which provides, among other things, that 75 percent of the national park area is to be developed into a nature zone by 2027. In June 2008, however, a citizens' movement brought a popular complaint before the Bavarian Constitutional Court. In its judgment of March 4, 2009, the latter declared the extension of the natural zone to be compatible with the Bavarian Constitution and the residual risk of pest infestation among the residents as reasonable.

50th anniversary
Bayerischer Rundfunk took the 50th birthday of the national park as an opportunity to broadcast a bonus episode entitled Meditative Forest Sounds to Relax on October 2, 2020 on Bayern 2 as part of its radioReisen series. It should be emphasized that the sound recording was made with the help of artificial head stereophony near Bodenmais on the southern slope of the Großer Arber. With the help of this procedure, directional localizations can be carried out. This spatial effect only occurs when headphones are used. A Sennheiser dummy head was used as the recording device. The hour of forest life with the twittering of birds, the rustling of trees and the splashing of the stream is available as a podcast and can be listened to and downloaded at any time.


According to a study by Hubert Job, 760,000 people visited the national park in 2007. Of these, 511,000 visitors, i.e. 67%, were overnight guests, and 249,000, i.e. 33%, day visitors. This makes the national park the most frequently visited attraction in the Bavarian Forest as a whole. With the exception of Bodenmais, the municipalities in the Regen and Freyung-Grafenau districts that are directly adjacent to the national park have significantly higher numbers of overnight stays than those further away.

96.1% of the visitors come from Germany, 3.9% from abroad. 28% of the recorded visitors, especially the day visitors, come from the immediate vicinity of the national park.

For 45.8% of visitors, the existence of the national park plays a large or very large role in their decision to visit the area. For 54.2% it does not matter. The proportion of actual national park tourists, for whom the existence of the park plays an important role, is slightly higher among overnight guests than among day guests (72% national park tourists to 63% non-national park tourists among overnight guests, 28% national park tourists to 37% non-national park tourists among day visitors ).

In 2007, visitors to the national park generated a net turnover of 24 million euros, from which the accommodation industry in particular benefits.

66.3% of the tourists surveyed said no to the statement “The development of bark beetles is damaging to tourism”. This means that they are more open to current forest developments than local entrepreneurs, who agreed with the above statement to 46.0%. The more the tourists know about the tasks of a national park and the role of the bark beetle in the forest ecosystem, the more likely they are to not fight the bark beetle.

Association of national park communities
For a long time, local politicians in the national park communities and also accommodation providers were rather negative about the national park. In the meantime, however, the municipalities of Bayerisch Eisenstein, Lindberg, Zwiesel, Frauenau, Spiegelau, Sankt Oswald-Riedlhütte, Neuschönau, Hohenau, Mauth and Grafenau have joined forces to form the National Park Municipalities Association. These cooperate in the field of tourism and also promote the national park.

Together with the municipalities of the Czech National Park Šumava, they appear as a national park region under the brand name “Wild animal”.

Bavarian Forest National Park traffic concept
The Bavarian Forest national park traffic concept is intended to enable car-free tourism in the national park. In the summer months, all hikers' parking spaces in the national park are approached by the so-called hedgehog buses every hour or half hour, while many streets in the park are closed to car traffic. The connection between the larger communities is made possible primarily by the forest railway lines Zwiesel-Grafenau, Zwiesel-Bayerisch Eisenstein and Passau-Freyung. In the Zwiesel train station, a cycle node was set up as part of an integrated cycle timetable for all forest railway lines. A bottleneck is currently the Zwiesel-Grafenau line, which can only be used every two hours due to the lack of signal systems and crossroads.

In addition to the travel offer, the Bayerwald Ticket was introduced in the 1990s. The Guest Service Environment Ticket (GUTi) was introduced in May 2010. This enables overnight guests to use buses and trains free of charge in the area of ​​validity of the Bayerwald ticket. All national park communities and other communities take part in the GUTi. It is part of the national park traffic concept Bavarian Forest.

Since the introduction of the GUTi, the number of passengers has increased significantly. On the Zwiesel – Grafenau railway line, capacity utilization rose to 80 to 100% after the introduction of the GUTis. The range of transport has been expanded and stops have been renovated.