In Germany, there are sixteen national parks (German: Nationalpark), just over a hundred nature parks (German: Naturpark) and more than 8.5 thousand protected areas or protected areas (German: Naturschutzgebiet). The first nature conservation zones appeared here during the Weimar Republic, which included the concept of “Naturschutzgebiet” in 1920.
Sixteen national parks, excluding maritime areas, represent only 0.6 percent of Germany’s area. Natural parks, where the least strict protection regime operates, occupy 25 percent (!) Of the country’s territory. Numerous nature protection zones – still about 4% of Germany’s area. In some areas, nature parks are bordered by national parks – for example, in the Bavarian Forest. In the Harz area, there are generally three nature parks and a national park.
Lüneburg Heath Natural Park
Below we will fully list the national parks, but first we will list at least some popular nature parks. For example, residents of Cologne, Düsseldorf or Bonn have a direct access to the neighboring Naturpark Bergisches Land. In the last century, these places were even called “Prussian Siberia” – they were so wild and dense. Also nearby is Semigorje (Naturpark Siebengebirge). From Hamburg – a stone’s throw from the Lüneburg Heath (Naturpark Lüneburger Heide).
Forest cat in the bavarian forest
The first German national park opened in 1970 in the Bavarian Forest – Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald. Animals are rare in Germany – for example, wild boar, lynx, peregrine falcons, forest cats and black storks. Most of this park is located at an altitude of over a thousand meters. More than 700 thousand tourists visit here every year.
Lake Königssee and Mount Watzmann
The second national park in Germany – Nationalpark Berchtesgaden – is also located in Bavaria. It was created in the Berchtesgaden region in 1978 and is the only German national park at high altitude. Located in altitude from 600 to 2700 meters above sea level. About 1.6 million people visit this park every year.
Seals on Pellworm Island
The next three parks were established in 1985, 1986 and 1900 in the shallow coastal waters of the North Sea. In 2009, the Wadden Shallows of Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark were added to the World Natural Heritage List. There are about 3,200 species of animals in the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer National Park. In general, in all these shallow waters – 10 thousand species!
Lighthouse in Doroma
Lower Saxon Watts
Lower Saxon Watts National Park (Nationalpark Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer) surrounds the islands of East Friesland. Seven of them are inhabited: Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog, Wangerooge. The shallow waters of the wagons play an important role in particular in protecting seabirds and seabirds that breed here or stop during seasonal migration.
The mouth of Elba
Wadden Sea of Hamburg
Hamburg’s Wadden Sea National Park (Hamburgisches Wattenmeer) is the smallest of the three German coastal parks in the North Sea. It is located at the mouth of the Elbe near Cuxhaven. The park is home to 2,000 species of animals, of which about 250 species are found only in the local salt meadows. This park was included in the UNESCO list later than the other two – in 2011.
Chalk cliffs on the island of Rügen
Jasmund National Park
On the Baltic island of Rügen is the Jasmund National Park (Jasmund Nationalpark) – the smallest in Germany. It was founded in 1990. The coastal rocks of chalk, which served as a motivator for the owner of the topography Caspar David Friedrich, use a special lime. Part of the local Old Beech Forest has been registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
Birch grove in Müritz National Park
Müritz National Park
Müritz-Nationalpark was founded in 1990 in the area of Lake Mecklenburg, which was formed about 15 thousand years ago during the Ice Age. More than ten percent of the territory falls into lakes, another eight percent – into swamps. In the photo – one of the birch groves. It should also be noted that the local Serran beech forest is included in the World Heritage List.
Schrammsteine rocks in Saxon Switzerland
These places near Dresden do not need special introduction. Saxon Switzerland National Park (Nationalpark Sächsische Schweiz), created in 1990, is famous for its mountain scenery. In the last century they wanted to start actively mining sandstone here, which provoked protests. In 1910 a society was created for the protection of the mountains and in the GDR these areas were taken under protection in 1956.
Sunset in Oder
Lower Oder Valley
The Lower Oder Valley National Park (Nationalpark Unteres Odertal) was established in Germany in 1995 on this border river in the Uckermark region. The park stretches along Oder in a lane two to eight kilometers wide. Here are especially well known villages with numerous stork nests on the roofs. Water meadows serve as a resting place for migratory birds.
Windbreaking Trees (German: Windflüchter) in Western Pomeranian Lagoons National Park
Lagoons of Western Pomerania
The Western Pomeranian Lagoon National Park (Nationalpark Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft) was created in the GDR shortly before German reunification. About half of the park falls into lagoons – the local shallow waters of the Baltic Sea. It also occupies part of the Fischland-Darss-Zingst peninsula, as well as the island of Hiddensee, nicknamed “Baltic Capri”.
Hainich during the wild flowering of garlic
Hainich National Park
This review has already mentioned many old beech forests in various places, which are included in the UNSECO World Natural Heritage List. Hainich National Park was created in 1997 solely to protect such an ancient forest area here. It is the only national park in Thuringia. This photo was taken during the wild flowering of garlic.
Small Kurot on the Eiffel
Such representatives of the mill family – little kurots (German: Sumpfspitzmaus) – live in the Eiffel National Park (Nationalpark Eifel). Founded on the Belgian border in 2004. More than 900 species of protected animals and plants are found here. 240 km of hiking and more than 100 km of cycling routes have been designed for visitors.
European beeches (German: Rotbuche) in the Kellerwald-Edersee park
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park (Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee), founded in 2004 in Hesse, is one of the five German beech forests on the World Heritage List. There are no settlements in the park. The unique forest has been preserved in its original form, as for a long time it was owned by the local princes, who used these places as hunting grounds.
Reindeer in Hearts
The Harz Forest region is located in three federal states at the same time – Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony. The Harz National Park (Nationalpark Harz), created in 1990 and expanded in 2006, now occupies about 10 percent of the area and is the largest forest national park in Germany.
Rainbow in the sky over the Black Forest
The Black Forest National Park (Nationalpark Schwarzwald) is located in one of the most popular forest tourist areas in Germany – the famous German Black Forest. It was founded in 2014 in the northern part of the Black Forest and became the first national park in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg.
Mountain swamp in Hunsrück
This newest national park in Germany was created in 2015 on the border of two federal states – Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park is located in the southern part of the Hunsrück mountain range at an altitude of 400 to 700 meters above sea level.