“Environment and Society Doctoral Students Explore the Bavarian Forest National Park”
On 4 July 2016 the members of the Doctoral Program Environment and Society took a field trip to the Bavarian Forest National Park. Marco Heurich, deputy head of the Park’s Department of Conservation and Research, gave the group an introduction to the history of the Bavarian Forest NP and pointed out some of its unique features. Founded in 1970, the Bavarian Forest NP is Germany’s oldest national park and has a sister national park in the Czech Republic—the Šumava National Park—which shares its ecosphere.
Since the national park is situated between different communities that log for wood and farm the meadows around the forests, the rewilding of the Bavarian Forest has affected these neighboring populations, making them resistant to rewilding strategies. Two consequences in particular have generated controversy: By letting nature regulate itself, the bark beetle resurfaced in the 1990s and destroyed many large trees. The nearby farmers feared the beetle would also affect the forests that they had planted for logging purposes. However, it has now been discovered that what was initially thought to be “dead wood” is, in fact, a thriving habitat for rare bird species and contains more biodiversity than the mostly monoculture forest did before. Moreover, since it became a national park, lynx and wolves have returned to the Bavarian Forest and the surrounding farmers blame them for attacks on sheep herds. To this day, lynx are killed by unknown locals.
Following the talk, the RCC group took the opportunity to explore the surrounding forest on their hike up the Lusen (1373m) and went to the Lusen visitor center afterwards. Next to the visitor center a canopy walk allowed visitors to stroll among the trees, rewarding them with a spectacular view of the Lusen from the uppermost platform.