Melic-Grass Beech Forest in Volgelsberg

Sunlight in the Beech forest
Sunlight in the Beech forest
Photo: Jens Christoph

In 2006 Naturefund purchased a 'Melic-grass' Beech forest in the Vogelsberg area. At the same time we purchased an orchard and woodland area, with rare vegetation and a natural spring. Our partner in this project is the local NABU group from Steinau who will manage and protect the area.

A Beech forest with rare species of Bats

In total we have purchased around 56,000 m² of Beech forest, including a natural spring at the edge of an ancient orchard. The aim of this purchase is to protect the forest permanently in its natural state.

Our partner in this project was the NABU Steinau, who will manage this forest. Many sponsors made contributions in order to secure this unique habitat for a variety of species.

No commercial use for the past ten years

The forest itself hasn't been used for commercial means for the past ten years. As a result some of the Beech trees have reached the age of 150 years old, which is not exceptionally old for a Beech tree, but would still be a rare find in a forest of commercial use.

In fact it is precisely these older trees that offer a habitat for so many species. Rare species of bat find a place to live and nesting possibilities in the nooks of these old trees. The forest floor is also covered with old fallen tree trunks and Woodruff and Daphne.

The Orchard and Natural Spring

In the area around the natural spring, many types of butterflies and dragonflies cavort in the fresh air. The spring water flows through the meter-high grass and reeds and in the evenings you can hear the chirping of the grasshoppers.

The old apple and pear trees offer their nooks as nesting places for many types of birds. In fact as many as 35 species of birds use old grassland orchards for their habitat!

New Fruit Trees

Since the purchase of the land, the NABU Steinau has been pruning the old fruit trees, cutting away any rotten parts and dead branches.

In place of those trees that were completely dead, new trees of rare and forgotten varieties which are native to the area have been planted, including seedlings of the ancient Sorb tree.

The Sorb tree belongs to the Ash family and was once used as a preservative in apple ciders and wines, long before modern methods of preservation were invented. As Sorb trees are no longer used for this purpose, this variety is slowly disappearing, though that is certainly not the case in this orchard!

Newly-Planted Yews

In the shadow of the tall beech trees, we have also planted 17 Yew saplings. Yews are evergreen trees which grow very slowly and can reach the age of 2,000 years old. Due to overcultivation and commercial use, it is very rare to find the Yew growing in the wild.

Basic data


The Beech forest is located in the Vogelsberg area, in Hesse, close to Steinau an der Straße.


55,839 m²


Noctule bats, Greater mouse-eared bat, Daubenton's bat, Black Woodpecker, Tau Emperor moth, Common Cuckoo;


Beech, Yew, Melic grass, Woodruff, Dog's mercury, Daphn;

Special characteristics

Many trees are around 150 years old. The combination of a spring and a meadow orchard results in a habitat full of different species.

Concept for protection

The Steinau branch of NADU became the owner of the area and will together with their youth group manage and protect the land in the long-term.

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