Mechernich Travel Tip:
Eifel National Park

Eifel National Park
Eifel National Park

The Eifel National Park (German: Nationalpark Eifel) is the 14th national park in Germany and the first in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The aims of the Eifel National Park accord with those set out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCN. These require that at least 75 percent of the national park's area must be left to develop naturally - i.e. must not be given over to human use - within 30 years of the foundation of the park. Aims, mechanisms and executive bodies are laid down in the National Park Regulation (Nationalpark-Verordnung or NP-VO). The relatively young national park lies in the north of the Eifel region between Nideggen in the north, Gemünd in the south and the Belgian border in the southwest. The legal decree by the state that lays the foundation for the park has been in force since 1 January 2004. The area covers about 10,700 hectares (26,000 acres), is bordered to the northwest by the Rur Reservoir and includes the neighbouring Urft Reservoir, the former Vogelsang Military Training Area, but not the Nazi Ordensburg Vogelsang itself. The terrain of the former military training area run by the Belgian Armed Forces and used by NATO troops, the Dreiborn Plateau, forms about 3,300 hectares (8,200 acres) of the entire area and has been open to the public since 1 January 2006.

The Eifel National Park protects the wood-rush and beech woods that flourish in the maritime climate and which have been preserved to this day in parts of the North Eifel, but which originally covered the entire Eifel region as well as large parts of Central Europe. An area of 110 square kilometres (42 sq mi) is covered by deciduous and coniferous woods, lakes, streams and open grassland. One large contiguous stretch of forest with a high percentage of beech woods is the region known as the Kermeter. This forested area is accessible and offers a large number of interesting walks. The Eifel National Park is home to over 900 species of endangered animals and plants on the red list. A total of 1,300 species of beetle alone have been discovered in its woods. Amongst the other forms are wildlife in the park are the wildcat, the black stork and the wall lizard which is a rarity in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Thanks to exploitation of the forests, especially for the production of charcoal, much of the Eifel had been cleared of trees by the early 19th century. It was the Prussians in the 19th century who planted large parts of the Eifel with spruce. The planting of this type of tree was further encouraged after the Second World War. Spruce trees grow faster than many species of deciduous tree and enable more rapid reforestation. Because, following its designation as a national park, nature was left to itself in many areas, large numbers of conifers fell victim to bark beetle. The ridge of Kermeter, which is surrounded to the north and west by the Rur Reservoir and to the south by the Urft Reservoir, was particularly hard hit, because the very low precipitation there is ideal for bark beetles. This is a natural process, albeit one that needs to be monitored. In a timely fashion, it helps to prevent the spread of conifer woods outside the national parks. The repopulation of the southern part of national park area with beeches is being gently encouraged. This involves a degree of so-called 'initial planting'. But there are also areas that need no more intervention. The beech trees thrive well in shade and their natural rejuvenation may also be found today beneath the spruce trees. Nevertheless it will be several decades before the beech is once again the dominant species.

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Address: Mechernich
Tags: Eifel National Park, Nationalpark Eifel, Mechernich

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Mechernich is a town in the district of Euskirchen in the south of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

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