The Murnauer Moos is much more than just a peat bog and a natural display of colours and shapes that turn it into a special sensory experience. The peat bog's surface and the combination of micro-biotopes combine to make it the most important peat bog complex in the foothills of the Alps in Central Europe. Straw meadows, lowland and transitional peat bogs, sinkholes, backwater and residual lakes with fully developed highland peat bogs form a unique mosaic of diverse habitats of rare and endangered plant and animal species . More than 160 of the species found here have been added to the Red List of endangered species, including fen orchids (Liparis loeselii, syn. Ophrys loeselii), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) and the two sedge plants, Davall's sedge (Carex davalliana) and Hudson Bay sedge (Carex heleonastes), as well as the white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), northern shrike/great grey shrike (Lanius excubitor) and the landrail/corncrake (Crex crex).
The peat bog with its special geological features was the work of glaciers: Hard rocks resisted the enormous moving forces of the white giants and eventually formed the edge of a basin with a depth of up to 250 metres. It was gradually filled by gravel. The water could only drain away slowly. A lake was gradually formed which, over the course of thousands of years, was covered with a thick layer of peat formed by decaying plant debris. Thus different types of peat bogs were created as a result of the permanent moist and wet conditions: lowland peat bogs in the areas through which ground water flowed and highland peat bogs in the zones where water was trapped. In some places, the groundwater is trapped otherwise, for example by the unique rows of hills (Köchel) rising up out of the depths. South of the round humps stemming from the ice age, the groundwater seeps out of the ground and forms small source lakes and peat bogs.
Streams, lakes and Köchel hills
The peat bog's wealth of plant and animal species can especially be attributed to the geologically remarkable rows of hills known as Köchel and the numerous lakes and streams. The Ramsach, a stream with its source in the Schwaigen district of Plaicken, and the Lindenbach, which has its source in the resort town of Bad Kohlgrub, are the largest streams in the Murnauer Moos.
The Köchel are densely wooded, round, hump-like hills consisting of Glaukoquarzit (trade name), a hard rock dating back to the Cretaceous period of the Helveticum or Helvetic system. They originally formed islands in a lake, and even today, they rise up out of the flat surface of the peat bog like small islands.
Industry and nature conservation
On the Köchel hills and around them, forest ecology systems have been preserved, especially due to their island character. This, for example, makes them difficult for humans to access. Just the same, though, until 2001, two of the Köchel hills – the Moosberg Köchel and the Langen Köchel – were utilised for industrial purposes. Their rocks were excavated and used for the infrastructure. Later these surfaces were renaturalised and most of were purchased by nature conservation societies and the state in the context of a large-scale nature conservation project and associated protection regulations.
Centuries of handwork
The protection of the Murnauer Moos bog also has an effect on the neighbouring land. Thus the peat boog continues to be a business location that is demanding in terms of work and weak in terms of earnings for the local farmers. They, namely, laboriously cultivate the land using traditional manual methods and restrict themselves to cutting the hay in the areas that are not as wet only once a year and to using the meagre harvest as straw.
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82418 Murnau a. Staffelsee
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1 October to 30 April