Like in a fairytale forest, old gnarly trees cling to the steep rocky slopes and emphasise Lake Edersee’s blue glow deep down in the valley. The placid and spacious landscape character of Kellerwald-Edersee National Park is characterised by more than 50 mountains and peaks. From a bird’s-eye view, Kellerwald forest looks like an endless sea of beech trees. No road and no settlement cuts through its vast, exceptionally old woods. Around 1,000 of the purest springs can be found here, and even a few remnants of genuine primeval forests.
- UNESCO recognition: 2011
- Protected area: Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
- Beech forest region: Subatlantic-Hercynic
- Area: 1,467 ha
- Number of component parts: 1
- State: Hessen
- Altitudinal range: submontane to montane (low mountain range, 200 - 626 m above sea level)
- Fauna: Lynx, European wildcat, Black stork, Middle spotted woodpecker, Bechstein’s bat
- Autumn forest at Ruhlauber © Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
- Cheddar pink © Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
- Bizarrely shaped beech © Tilo Geisel
- Beech forest at Hagenstein © Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
- Oak-beech forest at Rabenstein © Kellerwald-Edersee National Park
- Nature Experience
Varied walking tracks provide wonderful landscape impressions and nature experiences – particularly the primeval forest trail Urwaldsteig Edersee. On 70 kilometres – in some sections with rocky and steep paths – it takes visitors to the last relics of primeval forests of the national park and other natural treasures around Lake Edersee. The Kellerwald National Park Centre presents Space for Wilderness & People. Its modern exhibition with a 4D sensory cinema provides information and inspires visitors to explore the national park.
On steep rocky slopes, the beech reaches its natural tree line, and forms bizarre forest patterns and mysterious-looking tree structures. The remnants of natural beech forests, dry oak forests, as well as boulder forests and forests on slopes and ravines are to be found here. Some 800 of the purest springs and streams, vegetated bedrock and boulder fields provide further valuable habitats.
- Flora and Fauna
The broad spectrum of habitats supports a large number of biotic communities typical of a deciduous forest, with countless rare species. Black storks, eagle owls, red kites, honey buzzards and stock doves all breed in the National Park. Seven species of woodpecker and 19 species of bat bear testimony to the structural richness of these ancient forests. Rare beetles such as the violet click beetle, which is considered a species of primeval forests, and the cheddar pink, which has 75 percent of its global population in Germany, are just some of its outstanding features.
- Beech Forest Type
Kellerwald-Edersee National Park covers an area of 7,688 hectares and is home to beech forests on acidic soils with argillaceous shale and greywacke – types of rock created from the sediment of primeval seas some 350 million years ago – which is typical for the German low-mountain ranges. The predominant forest type is the woodrush beech forest, often with a rocky, barren, or steep characteristic. Over 40 percent of the beech trees are more than 120 years old. A 1,000-hectare area boasts beech forests that are older than 160 years, in some cases even up to 260 years, and that are rich in dead wood.
Remote and little developed until the mid-19th century, broad swathes of these extensive forests were used as royal hunting grounds by the Princes of Waldeck and Pyrmont. Silvicultural use of the forest was never a priority, as parts of the terrain are steep and rocky, and therefore difficult to manage. The diversity of habitats for fauna and flora led to the area’s designation as a nature conservation area as early as 1935. Over the decades that followed, usage was gradually discontinued in almost one-third of the site. In 1990, most of the area was designated a natural forest reserve, and was finally declared a national park in 2004. In 2011, Kellerwald-Edersee National Park became the first German national park to be certified as IUCN Management Category II.
In October 2020, the Hessian National Park was extended by 1,950 hectares of land to the north and east of Lake Edersee.
Kellerwald Edersee National Park Authority
34537 Bad Wildungen
Phone +049(0)5621 9040-0
Website of the protected area
Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts – Ancient Beech Forests of Germany