Early in the 19th century, the works of German Romanticism inspired the idea of placing natural landscapes under protection in their entirety. In 1872, the time was ripe and the worldwide first national park was established in the USA. This was followed in 1909 by the first European national park in Sweden. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) formally defined the characteristics, criteria and functions of national parks in 1969.
According to Federal Minister of the Environment, Klaus Töpfer, Jasmund National Park was the equivalent of the family silver of German unity. Shortly before the GDR was disbanded – on 12 September 1990 – a national park program was enacted by the first and last freely elected government. As a consequence, East Germany brought five national parks, six biosphere reserves and three nature reserves to the unification, equivalent to about 4.5 percent of its land area.
In the middle of 19th century, chalk was being quarried on the Jasmund Peninsula. Concern that this impressive landscape could fall victim to economic exploitation resulted in the designation of a protected area in 1929. Further protective measures followed in 1935 and 1954, until finally, in 1990, the national park was enacted. Since then, the forest has been allow to develop naturally.