‘If the biosphere has developed elements over the eons that we have not learned to understand, then only an idiot would do without those apparently dispensable components. Keeping every cog and every screw is the most important precautionary measure of any intelligent hobby mechanic.’
Aldo Leopold, 1948
Its rocks, peculiarities in the landscape’s behaviour and the assurance of natural processes enable the National Park to provide the unusual habitat that it offers. This includes rock ledges and valleys, ageing and decay phases of natural pine and beech woods, standing and lying pieces of dead wood, and natural rivers and streams. These provide shelter for many plant and animal species, some of which are highly specialised. For example, a quarter of all the bird species use the rocks to breed and raise their young. The moist valleys and gorges provide a home for a wealth of ferns and mosses, e.g. the bright yellow Chrysothrix chlorina lichen at the base of the rocks and the clasp leaf twisted stalk otherwise only found in high mountains. Dippers, fire salamanders and brown trout are reliant on the natural rivers and streams. The warm, dry ledge pinewoods and their heathlands provide a habitat for cave-dwelling woodpeckers and owls, doodlebugs and Labrador tea in its white blossom. If you are lucky, you might even come across a peregrine falcon or an extremely timid black stork. However, most vertebrates such as deer, lynx, otters, bats and owls are extremely sensitive to disturbance and only come out at dusk. The beech woods on the basalt mountains are especially impressive in their variety of spring blossom such as wood anemone, nine-leaf coral root and hollow fumitory, but are also home to garden dormice, black woodpeckers and stock doves.
However, the National Park is not about protecting any particular species, whether especially beautiful or rare, plant or animal, or indeed ‘useful’ or ‘harmful’ species, but the entire gamut of fauna and flora as a whole. If you go hiking or take a walk, look closely and you will discover interesting details.