The Hainich-Dün region is situated in the west of Thuringia close to the border to Hessen. It consists of the forest region Hainich in the south, and the Dün region in the north, connected by the Obere Eichsfeld. The Hainich with its 16,000 ha is one of the largest closed forest areas in Germany that is dominated by broad-leaved trees. The National Park Hainich, founded in 1997, is located at the southern edge of this region and covers an area of 7600 ha.
It is characterized by unmanaged pure or mixed beech forests (Fagus sylvatica, with Fraxinus exselsior, Acer pseudoplatanus and others). In the central part of the National Park there is an old-growth forest of 261 ha which is unique for Germany in terms of its age, structure and extent. In the region Hainich-Dün a broad spectrum of differently used forests occur, including selection-cutting forests, age-class forests, so-called “Bauernwald” which was used by farmers and particularly diverse in tree composition, and forest island of different sizes. On former military training sites in the National Park, several successional stages from grassland to forests can be observed. In the Dün and Eichsfeld region grasslands and agricultural land occur with variable management intensity. Compared with the forest region, the extent of grasslands is relatively small, because they are under a pressure of land-use change. Extensively managed grasslands were formerly grazed by sheep, and these are under pressure of afforestations, while the more fertile intensive grasslands are under pressure to be converted to arable land. Towards the east the Hainch-Dün adjoins the agricultural land of the Thuringian Basin which belongs to the most fertile soils in Germany.
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Tree species distribution in the ExploratoryThe Hainich is the largest closed forest areas in Germany. Dominating is beech, often mixed with ash, sycamore, field maple, wych elm, oak and lime tree. Rich sites with soil producing substrats of limestone and loess can be found in the area.
In the Hainich all typical forest land use types occur: selection-cutting forests, age-class forests, and so-called “Bauernwald”. In some isolated patches, coppice with standards is still visible with old solitary oak trees in beech forests.
Links to further information
http://www.nationalpark-hainich.de/ (species lists, research reports and other information)
In the exploratory Hainich-Dün limestone (upper shell-limestone) and Loess constantly alternate. Therefore, silty, loamy and clayey soil textures dominate. Because a varying quantity of loess is deposited, the soil depth is varies considerably. While the limy, weathering clays often consist of carbonate, the pH value is between 5 and 6. In loess soils, strong soil leaching causes the development of clayey stagnant horizons and stagnant moisture. Dominating soil types are lessivé and pseudogley. On shell-limestone along hill sides rendzina occurs. Otherwise brown earth is frequent.
Typical soils (source: local soil team):