Research also plays an important role in protecting nature in every national park – only here scientists get a chance to examine life in relatively undisturbed habitats.
Researchers from all over Germany and also from abroad conduct long-term scientific investigations in Hainich. Students write bachelor, master or diploma works and dissertations on a wide variety of topics, e.g. forest dynamics and forest ecology, flora and fauna, geobotanical crown research or soil science. In addition, Hainich National Park is also used for research in other fields such as tourism, legal studies, history or public relations.
The inventory of species has considerably advanced. Sure, the wildcat is the most prominent species in the national park, but only one of an estimated 10,000 animal species. More than 2,000 beetle species have been identified so far, amongst them some new findings for Thuringia and Germany as well as re-findings of species thought to be extinct. Find out more in our scientific publications, in particular papers in the periodical ERFORSCHEN and the Species Report 2010.
Many universities, colleges and research institutitons cooperate closely with the national park authority. Natural woodlands not used for economic ends and succession zones are coveted research objects. Research on rare animals is carried out, for example on the wildcat: Scent sticks are put up that wildcats rub against, enabling scientists to draw conclusions about the population from hairs left behind. Another of many projects is a photo documentation undertaken on behalf of the national park authority, capturing the natural cycle of growth and decay in Hainich National Park.
The Canopy Walk also allows scientists new insights, e.g. about photosynthesis. Scientists from Jena installed their measuring instruments on the railings and were able to measure the oxygen emissions of leaves high-up in the treetops. Animal ecologists, too, use the Canopy Walk to do research about animals living in this habitat, effortlessly without the need for ropes or cranes.
Since interferences and disturbances by humans are to be kept to a minimum in the national park, appropriate rules need to be adhered to when planning and conducting research projects. For this purpose, the national park administration has developed a research concept as part of the Nationalparkplan 2010. Chapter C8 Monitoring and Research (page 97ff.) sheds light on objectives, principles and frame conditions as well as the level reached and research areas. The Nationparkplan is available for download here.
Due to its limited ressources, the national park administration can only carry out a small share of the research necessary itself. Many projects and undertakings can only be realised in cooperation with third parties.
In addition to major research project such as the Biodiversity Exploratories, many other projects were successfully undertaken by scientists, students and voluntary specialists in cooperation with the national park authority. Hainich National Park has thus become a nationally and internationally renowned centre of science and research, as was demonstrated by the conference "Hainichtagung 2016". An overview (in German) of possible topics for bachelor or master theses is available for download here.
The national park authority is always interested in collaborating with scientists, either in large or small-scale research projects by universities and other research institutes, or in scientific works leading to qualifcations or a degree, such as bachelor, master, diploma, state examination or doctoral degree.
We are also very keen to invite voluntary specialists and everyone who is interested to help with research duties in the national park (e.g. the inventory of species and habitats).