We are in one of Germany’s oldest nature reserves. Do you hear the birds sing? Hikers enjoy the varied landscape, and a flora and fauna with a large number of species.
Flora and fauna
Besides the donkeys at Mount Drachenfels, the fire salamander is one of the “landmarks” of the Siebengebirge. If you are lucky, you may hear a nightingale in the forest, or a kingfisher may fly past you. The Ofenkaulen caves, where once volcanic tuff was mined underground, are now a winter home for bats. If you walk out of the nature reserve towards the Rhine, you can hear the black-headed gulls from far away.
The Siebengebirge has been a nature reserve for a long time. Today, many endangered plants and animals have found a home here, and there are strict rules to ensure that they can live in peace. We humans are very welcome in these protected areas as long as we follow the rules of conduct, and there are hiking paths, forest inns and refuges for us.
Beeches and wilderness
If the Siebengebirge was untouched nature, there would be mainly beeches here. Once, the beeches covered large parts of Germany, but today we find them on only seven percent of their possible area, and little more than 5% of these beech forests are older than 160 years.
Today, Central Europe is a centuries-old cultural landscape, densely populated and densely built-up. Many animals and plants have disappeared forever, and we scarcely have primeval forests left. It is a European concern to protect our remaining wilderness. Also in the Siebengebirge many paths lead into the wilderness. By now have about 800 hectares of wilderness here, mainly in the area between the mountains Petersberg, Ölberg and Löwenburg. Here, we leave nature be, the forests can grow and decay in natural harmony. Beeches can live to be 300 years old, and in the wilderness they can do so in peace. Here, the old trees can decay when their time has come, dead wood is not removed, and woodpeckers can breed in their hollows in peace. “A home for sister beech and brother woodpecker”, as Francis of Assisi might have put it.
Volcanic origin and quarries
The Siebengebirge almost fell victim to quarrying. On old pictures you can see the wounds the quarry had inflicted. Thanks to the dedicated work of the Verschönerungsverein für das Siebengebirge (VVS), the Siebengebirge is a wonderful place today.
National Geotope Siebengebirge
In May 2006, as a result of a nationwide competition, 77 objects in Germany were awarded the title of National Geotope, including the Siebengebirge.
Closed quarries can also be geotopes. Here, you can see the different rock formations, and geologically trained people can use it to understand how a region was formed and what it has gone through over millions of years. In the Siebengebirge we have above all the abandoned quarry at Mount Weilberg and the outcrop walls at the mountains Drachenfels and Wolkenburg.