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Slow Development Towards Park Creation: A History of the Black Forest in Post-War Germany

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Germany is among the more eco-friendly industrialised nations, and since 1945 there has been a remarkable development in the spread of nature/national parks as instruments for large-scale nature conservation. However, its most beloved wooded mountain range, the Black Forest in the state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, lacked these parks for decades: it was not until 1999/2000 that the local municipalities formed two nature parks, and the state government established the Black Forest National Park only in 2014. While recognising that forestry interests and municipality heads were influential opponents of the government’s park plans, this article also focuses on other contexts and social groups. Nature parks were intended for the promotion of recreational land use during the post-war boom years, but in Baden-W├╝rttemberg the idea of creating parks provoked dissent among conservation officials. In national park debates of the early 1990s and the early 2010s, a circle of hikers asserted that local secondary forests were not an ideal location for a park, and opposing residents also argued against the principle of ‘let nature be nature’ in terms of maintaining the various environmental functions of forests. This regional history serves as a reminder of the diversity of alternative views about park formation.
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Keywords: Black Forest (Schwarzwald); Modern Germany; landscape protection; national parks; nature conservation; nature parks

Appeared or available online: May 19, 2020

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