By Katrin Schönig:
A month or so ago, I spent a week on the island of Rügen. During my stay I took a walk in the Natur Reservat Prora and its treetop trail. Indeed, it was the idea of walking amongst the treetops that drew me there.
The Prora Nature Reserve is located between the Jasmunder inland sea – the Bodden – and Baltic bay known as the Prora Wiek, therefore bringing together different ecosystems. To protect these ecosystems, but at the same allowing people to experience the area, the park was closed off and you can only walk through it on a guided tour. The idea is that the Urwald (primeval forest) should be able to form itself again without human interaction. For example, dead wood is not taken away, and no new plants are planted. Yet, to still be able to enjoy this beauty of nature, the Naturerbe Zentrum of Rügen built a big wooden trail through the treetops.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but easily admit that I was impressed. The construction is beautiful, seems to fit into the trees and very easy to access (the whole trail is wheelchair accessible). You have to climb up to forty metres, and from there you can stroll around the tree tops. I was lucky as it was a day of little wind, and not very many people, and so I could take my time in peace, trying to find the birds that were mocking me with their songs and marvelling at the beauty and size of the beech trees. Once again, I really wished I knew more about the flora and fauna that was around me so that I could understand a little more the beauty that I was observing. Luckily along the way are many information boards to teach a city-girl like me. At the end of the trail is a lookout tower build like an eagles nest – and what a construction! You walk your way up there and it takes you slowly over the tree tops and once you get there, you are presented a stunning view.
From such a vantage point you can see all the different nature systems – the masses of forest, the wetlands, the sea and the open fields. And at the same time you can also see the impact of humans, as you cannot miss the Nazi-built blocks of Prora, the boats on the water or a castle in the distance… A lot of thoughts for a city girl on top of the trees.
Words & Pictures: Katrin Schönig
Some general information:
The website is only available in german at www.nezr.de. The park and its treetop trail are open every day from 9.30am. Closing time depends on the sun going down, with 4.30pm being the earliest in winter. The entrance is not cheap at €9,50, but it is completely worthwhile. There is also a very interesting exhibition on nature and human impact on it. The tree top trail is completely barrier-free and easily accessible with wheel- or push chair. Your dogs are not allowed in, but dog houses outside the parks seem to provide a good place to await your return.