“Let nature be nature” is the motto here: in both the Eifel National Park and the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park, outstanding natural landscapes are protected and made accessible to visitors. It is their aim to withdraw step by step from the natural landscape, giving a new “wilderness” a chance to form. Over a large area, both national parks most notably protect the indigenous beech woods and their typical animal inhabitants – the Eifel National Park since 2004 in an area of 11,000 hectares in the north of the Eifel; the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park in 10,000 hectares in the western Hunsrück uplands.
Until the 19th century, the areas of both national parks were nearly bare of forest. The valuable beech and oak woods fell victim to the constantly increasing demand for charcoal. Reforestation began in the mid-19th century, albeit in a controlled manner and mainly with faster growing softwood. Today, the national parks aim to conserve the remaining beech woods, allowing the natural dynamic to return. Beech woods of this type are only to be found in central Europe. The European wild cat, driven out of other areas, still finds a home here. The Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park has retained the most dense population of wild cats.
In the Eifel region, where the national park has been developing for ten years now, first successes can already be seen. In the newer Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park, this development is still to come. Even within a few years, areas that are no longer used commercially attract animals and plants that can no longer find a habitat in populated areas or spaces used for agriculture. An old tree that falls and is allowed to remain in place offers deadwood that is the perfect habitat for many of the tiniest creatures. Here in the national parks, you can be amazed at the circle of life, which is characterised by growth and decay, and a richly-structured diversity and vitality.