• Junior Rangers
  • Junior Rangers
  • Junior Rangers

Twinning Project Black Forest – Bavarian Forest

Ancient woodlands, young rangers and a message from Botsuana


This summer holiday was the first time that the Junior Rangers of the Bavarian Forest National Park have had guests. The Black Forest National Park also has Junior Rangers and they were very curiously to know about the issues their Bavarian Forest colleagues have to deal with. Both groups spent one week together in the wilderness camp – and in the end, all were sure that this was the beginning of a long friendship. But go ahead and read about their common adventures in the wilderness camp diary …



Extremely cozy: the wilderness camp


Early in the morning, in the northern Black Forest, ten girls and boys load their bags into the National Park’s bus. It’s not the swimming pool or the lakes they are heading to. Their destination is a real adventure: the wilderness camp in the Bavarian Forest National Park! The ten are Junior Rangers at the Black Forest National Park and are on their way to visit six of their colleagues in the Bavarian National Park. The latter are well experienced, as for many years they have learned from Rangers, how to protect wilderness in their National Park. But the best is that they are really kind. The Bavarian Junior Rangers are thinking likewise about their guests as they first show them the animal enclosure at the “House to the wilderness“ in Falkenstein. “We heard wolves howling there, this was absolutely great!“, says Maria from Black Forest afterwards. Then it is time to lay covers in the “meadow bed”, the “woodhouse” or in the “light star”. That’s what the housings in the huge area of the wilderness camp are called.

The "woodpeckophones" are gaining shape.


Toni notes in his diary: “Today we had to get up very early: 7 o’clock. Nevertheless I really looked forward to the day.” Small wonder, Toni – after an exciting night and with the great programme for today! After breakfast the Bavarian Junior Rangers are presenting the exhibition at the “House to the Wilderness” to their guests. “The ones who present the house to me are called Daniel and David. They are very kind”, Toni writes down. Especially interesting to him is the development of the bark beetle in the Bavarian Forest. This is immediately inspected outdoors. Ranger Mario explains how to make the distinction between a forest for economical use and old-growth forest. “The forest for economical use is strongly structured“, Luis notes in his diary. This is very different from the ancient woodland in the National Park, where people are kept completely out and dead trees just stay lying around. Luckily for many animals as they can find or build holes in the dead wood. Luis writes: “Woodpeckers use self-made holes to find food or to breed. As soon as they move out they leave space for other animals.“ Other birds, bats, squirrels or dormice find a home. And a woodpecker is not just a woodpecker! The black-woodpecker, great-spotted woodpecker, white-backed woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker – they all could be the source of the knocking often heard in the Bavarian or the Black Forests. That is if it doesn’t come from a Junior Ranger: In the wilderness camp they cut out, painted and fixed “double woodpeckers” to a hollow wooden stick – and as a result produced a “woodpeckophone”! If waved to the left and to the right, the wooden beaks knock from both sides on the hollow wood. But enough of knocking for today. Tomorrow there will be a lot more to discover ...

Peak of the Lusen
Junior Rangers explain the capercaillie.


“Oh wow, how soft it is!“. Lea is amazed how smooth and silky the feathers of the stuffed owl feel. Today the rangers hid different types of owls in the trees and built up an information desk beneath the peak of the Lusen mountain. “We need two groups, please!“, Selina says. With one group the Bavarian Junior Rangers look for the owls. And why are their feathers so soft? Anna explains, that the soft feathers allow the air to flow around their feathers without making a sound while flying. That’s why their prey can’t hear them. Theresa and David are standing in front of another group with a huge capercaillie couple. “In the core zone of the National Park you have to be totally ,stad’. If not, the capercaillies flee and lose too much energy.“ Stad? The Black Foresters have never heard this expression. “Calm, silent. To get the same amount of energy of two sugar cubes they have to eat this size of a glass filled with needles from trees”, adds Theresa and shows a huge glass box containing 150 grams of needles. That’s why it is lots of work for the capercaillie to regain the energy lost by fleeing. Especially in wintertime the animals hardly find needles and therefore must not be disturbed. By the way: The 16 Junior Ranger also need energy now, since they climb Lusen by clambering over huge natural stones. With more than 1.300 meters of height the Lusen is the third highest peak in the Bavarian Forest! And before the coaches return to the campfire in the wilderness camp, the owls are presenting themselves live in the animal enclosure to the well trained eyes of the Junior Rangers.

The spruce stands for Germany ...
... and the savanna tree for Botsuana.


“A warm ‚Dumela‘ from Theda!“ The skype connection to Botsuana is running. It is very silent among the 16 Junior Rangers and their responsible persons in the big meeting room as Theda Countess Knyphausen tells them about her work with the Junior Rangers in the botsuanian town Maun. “We do a lot about the issue of waste, which is a big problem here. As an example we think about how to recycle it. Then we have the programme ,Kids to the Bush’: Once a year, 9 children go for three days on a children’s safari to see, in which kind of land they live and which animals are existing here. We are still two hours away from wilderness and parents often do not have the money nor a car to simply drive to the bush.“The north-German is in contact with the Junior Rangers of the Bavarian Forest for a while. “It would be great, if we could intensify the exchange through video messages and posters, so that the children get a feeling how life is here, which flora and fauna exists.” The Junior Rangers at the wilderness camp take their chance to learn about Botsuana from Theda: Which animals live there, how about poisonous ones, do opponents exist, who doesn’t want to protect nature and animals, which language is spoken – and first of all: “Do you come to Germany with the children?”, Theresa wants to know. “We would really love to, but this affords some money so we first have to collect through our foundation. So you have to have a bit of patience.” But the Junior Rangers can already see their colleagues from Botsuana, because of the prepared a video message. “We heard you have some problems with lynxes and wolves. We have the same with wild dogs. It would be very nice, if we could solve the problems one day together. We wish you a happy Junior Ranger Day!”, the children are calling into the camera. It is a happy Junior Ranger Day is for sure for the wilderness campers! To have a beautiful frame for the video messages from Botsuana they create a display till the evening comes. One half has the shape of a savanna tree like the ones that grow in Botsuana, the other half, that of a spruce like the ones that exist in the Bavarian and in the Black Forests. In the middle is a screen for the video messages. The 16 don’t have to think long till they have an idea for the design: It is about partnership, which connects all Junior Rangers – in Botsuana, the Black Forest and in the Bavarian Forest. So the word is written in capital letters where the trunks of spruce and savanna tree meet. Besides everybody writes and paints the names of the three National Parks and typical animals for the Parks. In the end, the double-tree display has become so beautiful that it is almost hard to leave to go meet the Bavarian Minister for Environment! She is coming to the “House to the Wilderness” today to honour the 2500st Junior Ranger and the work of all Junior Rangers. Afterwards the latter are celebrating their new Bavarian-Black Forest friendships with the second campfire, floor-bread and marshmellows ...


One by one the bags are piling in front of the entrance: Today is departure day. How was the week in the wilderness camp? “It was really cool“, Maria says and her friend Rike is nodding. “We made a lot of friends and exchanged phone numbers. And we are already looking forward to a reunion!” Rike especially enjoyed the Lusen. „It was also great to see the owls in the animal enclosure after we had learned about them at the information desk”. One of the best things to her was also the food. Inside, in the big meeting room, the Junior Rangers and their supervisors are gathering. “The food contributed to the success of our week here”, Ranger Mario says. All are stamping with their feet, clapping and calling to the cook in the kitchen for a big applause. Then there is a question-session: „Is today the end or the beginning?“, Mario asks. Clear answer from Junior Ranger Silas: „This is the beginning of a friendship and the beginning of the solidarity between the Black Forest and Bavarian National Parks!” The Black Foresters all agree that the Bavarian very soon have to come for a return visit. “How did you get along with the Swabian dialect?”, Rana wants to know. Not only Lea thinks it is “very cool“. And not only Swabian or Bavarian, but first of all, the nature in the Bavarian National Park. The Junior Rangers learnt so much this week that they get a certificate. “And to make you always feel to have the keys for the wilderness camp on board, you get a key fob and a discoverer’s booklet”, Mario says. One thing is very clear as all are sitting in the coaches: The doors between the Junior Rangers in the Black Forest and in the Bavarian Forest are wide open.