Ancient Beech Forest in Thuringia

Mysterious Beech forest
Mysterious Beech forest
Photo: Thomas Stephan

Naturefund, together with the Nature Conservation Foundation David purchased 200,718 square metres of beech forest in North East Thuringia.

Ancient Beech Forest

The old beech forest is located in North East Thuringia and South West Saxony-Anhalt. The forests never got cleared. This is proved by the existence of eleven types of primeval forest relics which can only exist in the virgin forest environment.

It is one of the few undivided areas of forest in Germany, which has only been partially deforested since the Middle Ages. Lynx, wild cats and red deer find natural habitats here.

Basic data


North East Thuringia and South West Saxony-Anhalt, between Sömmerda, Artern and Bad Bibra.


210,718 m²


Red deer, wild cats, lynx, various types of bat, such as the Bechsteins's bat, Nathusius' pipistrelle and Myotis alcathoe, along with a variety of birds such as Stock Dove, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Boreal Owl, Eurasian Eagle-Owl and eleven types of primeval forest relics such as Deadwood Beetles.


Beech, Oak, Artist's Conch Fungus, Ice Man Fungus

Special characteristics

The forests never got cleared. This is proved by the existence of the aforementioned types of primeval forest relics which can only exist in the virgin forest environment. Primordial land contains a very large amount of deadwood as well as enormous old beeches.

A special thing about these areas is that they contain many rare and endangered species of bats. In one dry crack in an enormous old beech, around 570 female bats of the genus  Nathusius' pipistrelle and Brandt's bat were found using the tree as a nursery roost. This was in Germany a single proof, (and in Thuringia the first) that such nursery roosts of the Nathusius' pipistrelle exist.


For many centuries, until 1934 the Hohe Schrecke was used extensively by the forest administration of Werther. Between 1934 and 1992 it was used as a military area, first by the German Wehrmacht and from 1945 onwards by Soviet troops. During which time there was no regular forest management.

From 1992 the state of the Federal Republic of Germany took control of the Hohe Schrecke for a short time, then handed it over to the Free State of Thuringia, who began the privatisation of the former deciduous forest. In the middle of this process, after only 1000 out of 4500 hectares had been privately bought, a common initiative was started by the neighbouring residents and the Nature Conservation Foundation David, which successfully secured the forest for conservation.

In 2004 on the Hohe Schrecke, an area of land covering 3.500 hectares, was officially recognised as the largest conservation area in Thuringia. An extensive plan for the nature conservation development of the entire area was drafted. The purchase of the land is an important step in order to transform the area to a natural state.


The Nature Conservation Foundation David is a partner of Naturefund. They are now the owners and custodians of the area.

Concept for protection

After the purchase, the beech tree population will be recognised as a nature reserve forbidding any forestal and agricultural usage of the land, and will therefor become a part of the 2,000 hectares of wilderness area. The area of land will also be officially recognised as permanent reserve under the new nature reserve regulations.

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