German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


National Nature Monuments

In Germany’s Federal Nature Conservation Act, Section 24 (4) states that:

National parks and national nature monuments are areas that have been designated in a legally binding manner and that:

  1. For reasons of science, natural history, cultural history or national heritage, and
  2. Because of their rarity, special characteristics or beauty

are of outstanding importance. National nature monuments are to be protected in the same manner as nature conservation areas.

Section 22 (5) of the Federal Nature Conservation Act sets out the requirements for consultation with federal government ministries regarding the designation of such monuments:

“Declaration of areas as national parks or national nature monuments, including changes to such declarations, shall be issued in consultation with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and the Federal Ministry of Transport and digital infrastructure.”

The new type of protected area borrows from Category III of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Thus, national nature monuments can be natural features of national importance as well as particularly impressive geological/geomorphological features and features that combine great natural and cultural value.

It was also necessary to assess which criteria apply when designating national nature monuments. One prerequisite is that the area must be of national importance, similar to national parks. The size of the area is not as important as when designating a national park – it may be of a smaller scale (a monument rather than a park). What must also be defined is how the national nature monuments are to be distinguished from other protected area categories such as national parks, nature conservation areas and natural monuments, from both a conservation and a legal perspective.

Such areas are unlikely to be completely natural and untouched, but in most cases are likely to be influenced by human activity. Management requirements therefore need to be assessed and laid down for the protection and conservation of nature monuments. Given the attractiveness of national nature monuments, great public interest and high visitor frequency can be expected. Are management plans therefore mandatory, and should administration, information and educational services be made available on site?

To answer these and other questions, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation launched a National Nature Monuments research and development project in 2010. The project has since been completed.

The first German national nature monument, the site Ivenacker Eichen in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, was established in August 2016.
It is charakterized by old oak-trees, five of them with an age towards 1000 years.

A second national nature monument, Bruchhauser Steine (24 hectars), was designated in April 2017. It is located in North Rhine-Westphalia and charcterized by four vulcanic rocks of quartzporphyr with elements of an arctic-alpine flora.

Last Change: 07/02/2017