From the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Alps, German national parks protect beautiful landscapes and give habitats to rare plants and animals. Today (2016) there are 16 national parks with a total area of over 10,000 km2. Not counting the marine share, national parks occupy an area of around 2,000 km2 or 0.57 percent of the federal territory.
The guiding principle "Natur Natur sein lassen" (Leaving nature to its own devices) goes back to the objective of the first German national park, Bavarian Forest National Park (1970, 240 km2). Germany's largest national park ist Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park (4,410 km2 – most of which being water, naturally). The smallest national park is Jasmund on the island of Rugen (30 km2).
"Nationale Naturlandschaften" is the umbrella brand of the national parks, nature parks and UNESCO biosphere reserves in Germany. The shared aim is to protect and preserve Germany's most beautiful natural and cultural landscapes and make them a true experience for visitors.
EUROPARC Deutschland is a joint venture of the German national parks, nature parks and UNESCO biosphere reserves that was founded in order to protect nature and the environment on a national level. The association created the umbrella brand "Nationale Naturlandschaften" in 2005 with the aim of raising the degree of familiarity of the German ecosystem preserves on a national and international level, of having one voice when addressing economic and political leaders and of creating a consistent quality and comparable offers of environmental education for visitors. A consistent corporate design increases the awareness of the brand Nationale Naturlandschaften in the public. Joint projects are, for example, the Junior Ranger Programme and the voluntary programme "Ehrensache Natur – Freiwillige in Parks". A total of eight task groups meet regularly to exchange experiences and mutual support in fields such as communications, information centres, research and monitoring.