For decades, Hainich was a restricted military zone. Therefore, large areas of the woodland were hardly entered and not used, so the forest stand there was able to develop undisturbed. The woodland is at its most pristine around the former shooting ranges.
Hainich's southern part, the Kindel, was used by the Wehrmacht for military purposes since 1935. After the Second World War, this area was further extended by the Soviet army and only in 1991 released for civil use. The large barren expanses were created by the military. But as is turns out, the forest is hard to ruin. In the National Park, the succession areas of the former training ground are gradually, but vigorously transforming into woodland. What is needed here is something that man has almost forgotten: sweet idleness and patience. You can be witness to a dynamic forest development in the National Park – a rare opportunity in Central Europe.
Some of the inaccessible areas were not even used by the military. There, primeval woodland has been developing quietly for decades already.
In the cultivated part of Hainich, outside the National Park, natural forest management has tradition. For generations, local people with felling rights and the forester cared for the Plenter forest and took out the largest trees by selective felling. Such forest and biological stainability is an impressive example for an ecologically valuable working forest.
In the four years between the first idea in 1993 and the Adoption of the Act on Hainich National Park on 10 Februar 1997, a multitude of activities took place: information events and visits, discussions, sectoral planning, inspection order in the Coalition Agreement, publications, conferences, opening of an "information centre" and much more. On 1 October 1996, the Thuringian government passed an "Integrated Protection Concept for the Hainich" with the objective to designate a national park. In May 1997, the then Federal Minister of the Environment, Angela Merkel, and the Federal Minister of Defence, Volker Rühe, visited Hainich; and both were impressed by the natural beech forests. The Act on Hainich National Park came into effect on 31 December 1997, so the Hainich celebrates its birthday on New Year's Eve. Following the founding event on 28 Februar 1998 in Kammerforst, the National Park Authority in Bad Langensalza started their work.