Harz National Park - Lynx project and caves

This excursion offers the opportunity to explore the Harz in a broad way. Besides a visit to the Cave Experience Centre at the impressive Iberg Dripstone Cave, we will address the Harz Forest about the area of conflict between nature conservation, use of nature and tourism at the House of Nature ("Haus der Natur") in Bad Harzburg. For an extraordinary impression of active nature conservation in the Harz National Park, we will complete the excursion with a visit to the compound of the Eurasian lynx and a wonderful one-hour hike through the Harz Forest.

We will start the excursion with a detailed guided tour through the Iberg Dripstone Cave. Shortly after, the Cave Experience Centre offers sightseeing at two exhibitions. One is the "Museum im Berg", delivering insight into the earth history, geology and mineralogy as well as historical insight into Bronze and Iron Age. It presents the formation of the Iberg 385 million years ago, as a coral reef south of the equator, up to present time. At the following visit to the exhibition "Museum am Berg" we can examine the archaeological discoveries and research results from the Lichtenstein Cave. The research results give an insight into the Bronze Age and the oldest record by DNA-analysis of an extended family of the world, their life and present descendants. An integrated part of the exhibition is a bronze tomb as a true to original cave replica.

During lunch break we continue our way to the House of Nature in Bad Harzburg. There, we will meet Ole Anders, the person in charge of lynx project. He will talk with us about the re-introduction of the Eurasian lynx in the Harz Forest. An alternative option is the visit of the forest experience exhibition at the House of Nature (only in German), which offers a new way of environmental education. The modern and interactive facilitation communicates, using the example of the manifold use of the Harz Forest, ecological relations and offers new perspectives and guidelines. Furthermore, a special exhibition about the Eurasian lynx informs about the reintroduction project at the Harz National Park. In addition, we have the opportunity to visit the nearby compound of the Eurasian lynx. Accompanied by a national park ranger and the occasion for discussions, we can finish the excursion with a one-hour hike back to the starting point nearby the House of Nature.


Iberger Tropfsteinhöhle
Haus der Natur

Meadows, bogs and wood pastures in the mountain ranges Ith and Solling

The excursion comprises three landscapes very different in ecology and management. The bus will first take us to the Ith mountains southwest of Hildesheim. There, we encounter species-rich grassland communities on limestone and discuss their origin and methods for conservation.

Active raised bogs on top of the Solling mountains will be the next stop. We will have time to explore the remnants of a once widespread habitat on acidic substrate. A paved trail will lead us into the wet heart of the Mecklenbruch where we will take a close look at a good example of long term bog restoration.

Along the whole trip we will gain insights into different types of managed forests. Getting to our last stop of the excursion, we can compare our impression of those "typical" forests with that of a management regime very rare for Central Europe: A grazed forest associated with the wood pasture project Reiherbachtal. We offer a diverse and colourful excursion with plenty of inspiration for lively discussions. (Photos: K. Hapke)

Harz National Park

Starting at the Torfhaus, this excursion will lead us into the heart of the Harz National Park. The Torfhaus was built in 1713 when peat cutting began in the nearby bogs due to a massive lack of wood for mining purposes. It became famous since Goethe undertook his ascent to the Brocken in the winter of 1777 from here. Lead by a biologist and a geographer, this field trip aims at presenting a deeper insight into the beauty of this landscape and the underlying climatic, geological, natural and human influences shaping it for centuries. The first half of the day will be a hiking trip of app. 12 km posing only moderate difficulties but requiring sturdy shoes. We will see bogs and bog renaturation by resaturation, spruce trees and forest development towards a more natural species composition, the work of the bark beetle , mountain streams and anthropogenic management of watersheds, called the "Oberharzer Wasserregal" and now being a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, the Quitschenberg named after its characteristic rowan trees, the remains of the border once cutting through Germany and ending at the Oderteich, once Germany's biggest barrage. The bus will take us then in a short drive to Clausthal-Zellerfeld, where we will after a lunch break visit the Oberharzer Mining Museum, also part of the World Cultural Heritage. The bus will then take us back to Hildesheim, where the field trip ends at 18 o'clock.

Half Day Excursion

Cultural landscapes and Conservation efforts

Location: Wernershöhe nature reserve
The nature reserve Wernershöhe, situated at the easternmost part of the Alfelder Bergland-region (Lower Saxony), is a showcase region for the conservation of cultural landscapes and man-made habitats in Germany. Since several centuries the natural woodland vegetation was transformed by traditional land-use regimes (agriculture, pasturing, coppicing, and oth-ers). As consequence not only a strong alteration of geomorphological and pedological properties was promoted but also a species rich biotic inventory adapted to open land-scapes. Until today the former human influence is reflected in the vegetation structures: for example relicts of pastoral forests (forest pastures) or oligotrophic, calcareous semi-natural grasslands.

The excursion focus on geomorphological and pedological features, on typical vegetation types as well as on the rich biotic inventory of high conservation value. Our discussion aims to address questions of cultural landscape conservation: abiotic and biotic inventory, refer-ence systems, succession, preservation and management.