NP Harz

Harz National Park

Germany's largest forest national park

The National Park (NP) Harz is the largest forest national park in Germany and covers 24,703 hectares (= 10% of the total area of the Harz). It is the northernmost low mountain range in Germany.

Approximately 96% of the national park is forested. In a relatively confined area the national park comprises different altitudinal belts, from hill country up to the subalpine summit of the Brocken. Among all German low mountain ranges only the Harz reaches the natural tree line.

The NP Harz is characterized by a highly diverse flora. Most plant species are not native in the Harz but have accumulated from different regions in Europe. Many of them originate from northern Europe and are relicts of the glacial period. 
The sampling area covers the territory of the former NP Hochharz (Upper Harz Mountains).

  • The park is regarded as a developing national park. About 41% of the area is core zone with strict protection of all natural processes.
  • In 2003, the IUCN (World Conservation Union) recognized the park as a National Park (Category II of the IUCN classification of protected areas).
  • As part of the Natura 2000 Habitat Network and System of Protected Areas it contributes to the preservation of forest-dependent habitats or species of Community interest.
  • It is registered as Fauna-Flora Habitat (FFH) and most of the area is confirmed as European bird sanctuary.
  • Due to its scenic beauty and its characteristic natural landscape the NP Harz is one of the most important tourist areas in Central Europe.
  • Since the 1980s, air pollutants originating from local sources as well as from the Ruhr  and Western Europe have lead to soil acidification, increased aluminium release, and disorders of the soil’s nutrient balance. These factors also affected the spruce population in the national park.



  • A major primary producer in semi-natural and anthropogenic affected ecosystems.
  • As the most dominant deciduous tree species in Central Europe, it plays a significant role in most nearly natural and also anthropogenically influenced forest ecosystems up to an altitude of 1100 m.
  • The roe deer is the most common of the larger herbivores (first order-consumer) to be found in the wild in Europe.
  • Soil is livelihood and biosphere for humans, animals, plants and soil organisms. All the substances brought in are transported, transformed and/or accumulated in the soil.


Sampling period

1991 - 2022

Extended information

Links to external information and legislation