Recognising and preserving habitat diversity

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The exhibition is shown in the observation tower of the canopy walkway. Image: H
The exhibition is shown in the observation tower of the canopy walkway. Image: Hydrogeologie/Universität Jena

A new exhibition at the canopy walkway in Thuringia’s Hainich Na­tional Park sets out the complex connections and interdependencies between ecosystems, biodiversity, and human actions.

It is well-known that humanity has an impact on nature and the environment. But how do they influence their surroundings? This is explained in the new permanent exhibition designed by the Chair of Hydrogeology at Jena’s Friedrich Schiller University, housed in the observation tower of the national park’s famous canopy walkway. Entitled "Diversity of the life and habitats under our feet. The role of biodiversity in the functioning and performance of eco­systems, their significance for human beings and the threats from climate change", the exhibition explains these tensions using Hainich National Park as an example.

Demonstrating interactions

"Together with our partners, we want the exhibition to invite people to take a different perspective on the natural environment of the ’Hainich’," says hydrogeologist Kai Uwe Totsche of the Institute of Geosciences at the University of Jena. The permanent exhibition in the trail’s observation tower combines various elements: display boards inform visitors about "Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services", "Forest, Water & Change", "Life in the Subsurface - Hidden Diversity", "Long-term Research in the Hainich - Exploring & Ex­plaining", as well as "Geology & Construction History". Video installations give insights into the long-term research carried out with, in, and around Hainich National Park. There are also exhibits, such as drill cores from the construction of the observation tower and further temporary exhibits. The exhibition focuses on the interactions between life above and below ground and hidden habitats in soil, rocks, and groundwater. The presentation shows the complex con­nec­tions in the natural world and between humans and the environment, and the resulting threats to nature and humankind, explains Totsche. The head of the National Park, Manfred Großmann, adds: "I’m happy that this exhibition makes the subject of biodiversity - which is more topical and more important than ever - more tangible for visitors to the Hainich UNESCO World Heritage Site."

Opening to mark several special days in March 2022

The exhibition is a joint project of the canopy walkway’s operators, the KTL Kur und Tourismus Bad Langensalza GmbH; the Hainich Natio­nal­ Park Administration; and the University of Jena. It will open at 11:00 a.m. on 21 March, on the occasion of the International Day of Forests. The opening of the exhibition is also dedicated to the other nature-related days of action in March - World Water Day on 22 March, and World Meteorological Day on 23 March - and each day’s central theme, such as World Water Day’s topic, "Groundwater - Making the Invisible Visible".