Almost one-third of Germany’s total territory is forested. In their present form, however, these forests are the products of human influence. Germany, with 11.1 million hectares of woodlands, is one of Europe’s most heavily forested countries, but the quality of the forests is not what their sheer size might suggest. 95% of them are commercial timberlands – meaning that the term “forest” is rather misleading. The sole purpose of areas that have been declared forests is to supply timber as a raw material.


The ECHTWALD Foundation is committed to improving the quality of Germany’s forests. This is achieved by purchasing tracts of forested land and cooperating with partners in the scientific and forestry sectors to renaturalize them – in other words, to convert them back into natural mixed woodlands.

This process creates natural forests that not only provide varied habitats for a wide variety of plants and animals, but also serve as recreational areas for urban residents to visit and explore. The ECHTWALD Foundation has successfully begun two renaturalization projects in the Black Forest areas of Burg Wiesneck and Frauensteig .


But ECHTWALD does not stop at renaturalising forests. We are committed to a holistic, integrated concept and certification process. Our aim is to transform the preservation of nature into a valuable economic and cultural good and inspire people to think about forests as more than mere industrial plantations geared towards profit.

ECHTWALD supports selected regional businesses and manufacturers by selling their high-quality traditional specialities and uncommon handicrafts under the ECHTWALD brand name. These products can be purchased directly from the ECHTWALD Shop as well as from selected retailers.

Additionally, projects themed around the experience of nature are developed for ECHTWALD by well-known international artists. In this way, our renaturalized forests are transformed into new recreational spaces, research stations, or vacation sites. Everyone is welcome to visit and experience these attractions and ecological systems.

The Karlsruhe School of Design and the Kkaarrlls design group headed by Professor Volker Albus together developed a series of experimental wooden furniture sold exclusively by ECHTWALD. The materials for these unique designer pieces come directly from wood harvested in the course of renaturalization processes at the ECHTWALD projects in Burg Wiesneck and Frauensteig.


ECHTWALD’s initiatives for reimagining forests not only as natural areas but also as places of cultural value have been awarded with two prestigious prizes: “Selected Landmark in Germany”, in the contest “Germany – Land of Ideas” sponsored by the German government and the German Economic Council, and the quality seal of “Werkstatt N-Projekt”, promoted by the German Council for Sustainable Development.

You can support the ECHTWALD Foundation as a donor or contributor, by becoming an associate, or simply by purchasing regional, sustainable ECHTWALD products. Help us create more new natural forests.



The ECHTWALD Foundation’s current renaturalization projects are being conducted in two forests purchased by the foundation at Burg Wiesneck and Frauensteig.

Together with Professor Andreas Schulte of the Centre for Forest Ecosystems at the University of Münster, ECHTWALD developed a concept for cultivating commercial timber in natural forests. ECHTWALD placed the experienced forest administration agency Graf Douglas und Prinz zu Fürstenberg under contract to manage these forests.

The forests of Burg Wiesneck and Frauensteig are located in the traditional cultivated landscape of the Höllental region with its historic settlements. In this region, tradition holds sway in the mountains while the modern age rules in the valleys, both combining into a harmonious whole that offers a wide spectrum of sights, delights, and places to explore.

The overall ensemble encompasses dense woodlands, old farmsteads, and the viaducts and rock tunnels of the Höllental railway line. Built in the nineteenth century, some parts of it still look for all the world like a model railway. Sawmills and mills dating from different generations line the roads. Old farmhouses, medieval chapels, and ruined castles bear witness to the development of the region from the Thirty Years’ War to the present day.

In addition to its scenic beauty, the region boasts traditional culinary delights and fine Baden wines. The Black Forest offers a blend of the best cuisine combining traditions from Baden and Swabia as well as Switzerland and Alsace in France.

The combination of cultured landscapes and unspoiled nature accounts for the region’s special charm and makes it a very attractive setting for the ECHTWALD renaturalization project.

ECHTWALD invites visitors to expand their horizons by experiencing, learning about, and exploring the forest at much greater depth than the typical brief encounter of a Sunday outing. The unique natural environments of the ECHTWALD forests at Burg Wiesneck and Frauensteig are open to all visitors. You’ll find easy-to-follow directions on the following map.