The Bavarian Forest is a nationalpark in south-eastern Germany. Actually it was our first national park founded in late 1970. Since it‘s expansion in 1992 it covers an area of about 24 square kilometers. Together with it‘s neighbor, the Czech Bohemian forest the total covered area is the largest forest in Central Europe! This makes it south an important habitat for a lot of animals. Not only the European lynx, but also the wolves, deers and very rare birds call the Bavarian Forest their home.
An ecologist‘s Paradise
Have you ever wondered how a new habitat is developing? By stopping the complete wood industry the bark beetle destroyed nearly the complete local vegetation. The higher regions are covered with nearly 90 percent of Picea abies, the norway spruce. That’s the reason why the trees are highly susceptible to pest like Ips typographus. In 1983 the government stopped managing the wood there to support a primeval forest.
Since then scientists can observe how a whole ecosystem is changing. But what does this mean for animals?
Being protected since 1970 the animals had lots of time to developed a strong population. After the reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx in early 2000s the wolf returned as well, so the European predators are nearly complete! But that‘s not enough predatory pressure for plain game like the red deer or the roe deers. That’s why humans still need to hunt them to control their populations, otherwise the damage on surrounding economic forests would be to high. Other very rare mammals like the Barbastelle, the European otter or rodents call the Bavarian Forest their home. Birds enjoy it there as well. Not only the Western Capercaillie and the Blackcock need the national park as their last safe space in Germany, also songbirds like the Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) enjoy the loose forest there. Birds of prey, especially the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) highly depends on this type of Forest, combined with open cliffs to breed.
To protect the wildlife it is forbidden to leave the tracks, and that’s a problem for us naturephotographers. The animals avoid humans as often as possible, and that‘s why they prefer secluded areas during the day. To give people the opportunity to observate animals in a nearly natural environment the Tierfreigelände Neuschönau was founded. On 200 hectares animals can live in huge enclosures, which give them the opportunity to withdraw themselves.