Germany's newest national park is set to draw tourists with its rare butterfly and orchid species and ancient ruins. The preserved area spans two western states and will open later this year.
The federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland, located by the French border, now share a new national park.
The Rhineland-Palatinate Parliament has given the project a green light, while the Saarland had already agreed to it in November 2014. "This is a success for our state, for the region and the nature of the Hunsrück mountain range," said the Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of the Environment Ulrike Höfken.
"Our region still has a rich biodiversity of animals, plant species and forests. It is our duty to protect this heritage," she added.
The new national park is expected to boost the development of tourism in this structurally weak region.
The park covers an area of 10,000 hectares. Ninety percent of it is located in Rhineland-Palatinate and 10 percent in the Saarland. The highest peak in the Hunsrück mountain range is the Erbeskopf, at a height of 816 meters (2,677 feet).
The beech tree forests, rocky landscapes and moorland in the park are the habitat of black storks, rare butterfly and orchid species. The region is also of cultural and historic significance, holding relics from Celtic and Roman times.
The national park is scheduled to be opened by representatives of both states on May 24.