14 I the Brocken The Brocken I 15 6 Harz National Park – legendary mountain wilderness 7 Natural forest line We associate the term „National Park“ with exotic animals and immense rainforests in Africa or America. And indeed the national park idea comes from America where, in 1872, Yellowstone National Park became the first of its kind to protect its natural beauty. Since then about 5,000 precious natural landscapes worldwide have been protected with this highest distinction. In 1990 approximately 60 km 2 of Saxony-Anhalt was given National Park status – Harz National Park with the Brocken. When looking to the west from board 6 you can see the TV towers on Torfhaus. Here is the approximately 158 km 2 Lower Saxony Harz National Park, added in 1994. With an 89 km 2 extension of the Upper Harz National Park in 2001 and the merger of the two Parks in 2006, we have today’s Harz National Park, at approximately 247 km 2 . Many rare animal and plant species live in the mountain spruce, beech and mixed deciduous forests, the bogs, mountain streams, granite cliffs, and the dwarf shrub heath of the National Park. The most pristine habitats are protected in natural dynamics zone. Here no intervention takes place. In the natural development zone there are areas of spruce that were once planted for forestry purposes; these are now being turned back into natural forest by adding deciduous trees and opening them up to more light. These human activities will continue for some years. The Brocken summit itself is in the utilization zone of the National Park. The aim of the Harz National Park is to stop human intervention in at least 75% of the National Park, in accordance with the motto „let nature be nature“. The closed spruce forest on the Brocken has a natural forest line at about 1,100 metres above sea level. This northernmost natural forest line in Central Europe is particularly valuable for nature conservation. It is caused by the special climatic conditions here on the highest Harz mountain. Among the limiting factors the wind is especially important, preventing the creation of a closed forest on Brocken plateau and so creating space for the dwarf shrub heath. As the windiest place in Germany (on 24.11.1984 a wind speed of 263 km/h was measured), the Brocken is the only naturally forest-free part of the central German uplands. The climatic conditions (approximately 4°C mean annual temperature, 1,800 mm annual rainfall and about 300 foggy days) and the ecological conditions at 1,141 metres on the Brocken are comparable to those at about 2,000 metres above sea level in the Alps. The reason for this is the exposed, northern location of the Harz. The mountain stands as an insurmountable obstacle in the North German Plain. Therefore, it is always exposed to the winds and storms which predominantly transport humid air masses from the southwest.