The northern Black Forest was already being used by hunter-gatherers following the last ice age, although at a much lower intensity compared to today. They improved their hunting grounds by using fire to create forest clearings where wild animals could graze thus making them easier to hunt. Over the course of time the large herbivores were gradually eradicated by the hunters which also resulted in major changes to the forests.
One thousand years ago, the entire National Park area consisted of richly structured primeval forests with many giant trees just as old. Interspersed within the dense forest were various sized clearings, the result of storms, fires, wild animals and insects. Approximately one third of the trees were dead, their trunks standing for decades like mighty pillars before collapsing and making the forest almost impenetrable. Young trees would grow in the openings. The only constant factor in this wilderness was continuous change.
The primeval forests in the lower-lying areas primarily consisted of beech and oak while on higher ground above 800 metres fir and beech were dominant. There were considerable fewer spruce than today and grew mainly in the colder, higher reaches of the Black Forest. Consistently unforested areas such as a few moors, exposed bedrock, talus slopes and cliffs provide habitats for a number of highly specialised species.
The first permanent settlements in the northern Black Forest were established around 1000 years ago. This was followed by forest clearings to make way for high pastures. Increasingly intensive grazing and wood harvesting, with many logs being rafted down river, resulted in the almost complete disappearance of the primeval forests. Although reforestation of the area began around 250 years ago the structure of the original forest requirers more time to be realized. The very few relatively untouched areas that remain to this very day consist of moors, exposed bedrock, cliffs, talus slopes and some forest areas protected from use many decades ago give us an impression of what the primeval Black Forest might have looked like.