After the Second World War, the Soviet Union’s armed forces set up a military training area in a forest and heathland area between Wittstock and Neuruppin, covering a total of around 12,700 hectares. The territory served as an air and ground firing range. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the area was to continue to be used by the German army as a low-flying training area, but this was eventually prevented as a result of years of public protest.
The sealing-off of the area and its military use led to the creation of various habitats for plants and animals such as dry sand heaths, dunes, oak and beech forests. The extensive heathlands here provide ideal conditions for insects, which in turn attract many species of birds such as the tawny pipit, the nightjar, the hoopoe and the woodlark. As a result, the Kyritz-Ruppiner Heath is of particular importance for nature conservation in Germany. The national natural heritage sites are maintained by the Heinz Sielmann Foundation together with the Institute for Federal Real Estate (BIMA) and are also being developed for low-impact tourism. Ammunition remains have been cleared from 13 kilometres of hiking trails between Pfalzheim, Rossow and Neuglienicke, so hikers, cyclists and riders can enjoy a wonderful outdoor experience here. There are excellent resting places, while signs show the way and provide information about the landscape and its development. Horse-drawn carriage and charabanc rides can also be taken through the heath landscape, which is in full bloom in August and September. The 15-metre high Heideturm (“Heath Tower”) on the Heinz-Sielmann Hill near Pfalzheim provides an expansive view of the landscape.