Life and Death near the summit of the Belchen (1,414 m above sea level, Black Forest, Germany). While most of the firs up there are healthy some have succumbed to forest dieback, at least that is the common impression. The real causes can be varied so I won’t pin definite fault to any cause.
The Belchen is one of the oldest nature preserves in the Black Forest, already 1949 parts of it were protected after an expansion 1993 it is with 1600 hectares among the largest protected areas in Baden-Württemberg. Several rare birds and alpine plants find here a habitat, in case of the alpine flora we have here relics from the last ice age that today can normally only be found in the Alps.
More than 300,000 people visit this mountain each year to enjoy the nature and on clear days the stunning view that lets you see well into the alps even to the Mont Blanc (an excellent panorama showing this view can be found here )
According to some theories the name of the mountain Belchen is a derivate from the Celtic language (bhel = bright, shimmering) or religion then coming from Bel (or Beli / Belenus – the exact name differs from region to region, tribe to tribe but always meaning the same god), meaning The Shining, after the sun god and how the mountain seems to shine in winter when it is covered in snow.
The other theory is that it comes from the regional dialect (Alemannisch), where it simply means mountain without peak (and bare summit)