During the ice age, the glaciers pushed their way from the Alps to Oberschwaben (Upper Swabia). These massive sheets of ice gouged out valleys and deposited the rock they brought with them, forming hills and valleys. The Federsee Lake, with its surrounding marshland is a legacy of that time. North of the modern spa resort of Bad Schussenried, the Federsee basin was formed and filled with glacier melt water. As the climate grew warmer, lush vegetation developed in the lake and on its shores. As the remains of dead water plants sank to the bottom, so the lake became shallower, and marsh plants increased their hold on the shallow water. The lake developed into the largest area of marshland in the South West of Germany, measuring 33 square kilometres.
Highly specialised plants, such as sphagnum moss and cranberries, have adapted to the nutrient-poor, acidic conditions in the marsh. Typical trees in the marsh woodlands include the white birch, buckthorn and common sallow. Alongside ice age plants such as the moor-king lousewort or the creeping willow, the Federsee is also home to 10 different types of orchid, and 250 hectares of reeds surround the fringes of the lake. Since there is no way through other than the Federseesteg path, the area offers shelter to many creatures, especially birds. Some 266 species of birds can be found there, including rare specimens such as the marsh harrier or the common tern, now threatened with extinction. The Federsee is also home to numerous dragonflies, butterflies and bats, some of which are under severe threat.
The marsh holds traces of human occupation from thousands of years ago. Valuable archaeological evidence up to 14,000 years old has been preserved in the marsh environment.
Along with a visit to the exhibition in the Nature Reserve centre and guided tours there is a great deal more to discover, including the Federseesteg path with its look-out tower, the archaeological trail and the ancient forest, that has remained untouched for 100 years. The 16 km circular trail around the Federsee is an exciting route for both walkers and cyclists. Carl Zeiss supports the protection of nature at the Federsee: not only by providing financial support but also by making its binoculars available for use. This means that nature lovers can enjoy an even greater insight into the fascinating world of the Federsee.