Germany's Ancient Beech Forests
In 2011, the UNESCO World Heritage committee added five of Germany’s beech forest areas to the list of World Heritage Sites – among them the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park. This added a German section to the “Ancient Beech Forests of the Carpathians” World Heritage Site, which had previously straddled the border between Slovakia and Ukraine. Together, these areas reflect the broad spectrum of types of beech forests in Europe.
The beech forest in Kellerwald Edersee National Park southwest of Kassel is part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and stretches across an area of almost 1,500 hectares. The extensive, peaceful character of the national park's landscape is shaped by its many hills and crests. From above, the park looks like a sea of beech trees, the enormous old forests unbroken by roads or settlements. Again and again, hikers will stumble across views of the meandering Edersee lake. The dominant forest type is the luzulo beech forest, often with a bleak or stony character. Over 40% of the beech trees are over 120 years old. Over 1,000 hectares have beech forests that are more than 160 years old – sometimes up to 260 years old – that are rich in dead wood.