Environment: Forest Day: Private initiatives help with reforestation

Environment: Forest Day: Private initiatives help with reforestation

Forest Day: Private initiatives help with reforestation

The Dillenberg in the Taunus used to be covered with spruce trees.  Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa

The Dillenberg in the Taunus used to be covered with spruce trees. photo

© Sebastian Gollnow/dpa

In order to reforest the forest, numerous private individuals are again rolling up their sleeves this spring. Initiatives for voluntary planting campaigns are booming. It’s not just about new trees.

When Brigitta Brüning-Bibo went on her usual dog walk in the Taunus three years ago, she suddenly realized what had been hinting at for a long time. The forest is gone – at least in large areas, entire mountain slopes have become bare in a short time. “That’s terrible, I thought,” says Brüning-Bibo today. “And I decided: I want to do something for the forest.” Shortly thereafter, the “Herzenswald Schmitten” was created, a project of the Feldberg Initiative association.

Through tree sponsorships and reforestation campaigns, “Herzenswald” wants to help new forests grow back. In addition to company events, there are regular planting campaigns to which everyone is welcome. initiatives for the afforestation are currently booming in Germany – with a lot of private commitment. Instead of going for a walk, you go into the forest with a shovel, rubber boots and work gloves. Many forest offices also organize such voluntary campaigns – for example around the day of the forest on March 21st.

Mainly spruces affected

According to estimates by experts, around 450,000 hectares have to be cleared due to the massive damage Germany be reforested, as the Federal Ministry of Agriculture explains. The cause is, among other things, the extreme drought associated with high temperatures in the summers of 2018 to 2020 and in 2022. Most spruce trees died or became so ill that they had to be felled. But deciduous trees are also increasingly affected by the consequences of climate change.

Allowing the forest to grow back naturally would delay reconstruction by several decades, explains the spokeswoman for the German Forest Protection Association (SDW). Bonn, Sabine Krömer-Butz. “The goal is also to create mixed forests that are more resilient to climate change.” Mainly spruce and pine would germinate on pure spruce or pine areas.

“With our public plantings, we achieve greater sensitivity for the complex forest ecosystem among those involved,” explains Krömer-Butz. “This gives us hope that there will be greater environmental awareness in general.”

Solidarity with the forest

The spokeswoman for the Hessen Forest Agency, Michelle Sundermann, says: “Since 2018 we have seen a great deal of solidarity between people and the forest.” The climate crisis has hit the forests with full force and everyone can observe the consequences. “With our hands-on campaigns, we give people the opportunity to actively participate in the reforestation that is so urgently needed,” emphasizes Sundermann.

Hessen Forst alone is planning to replant a good four million trees in the Hessian state forest in 2023. Most of the work is done by entrepreneurs or their own foresters. “The extent that we can plant with volunteers is only symbolic against the background of this large number – the open spaces are simply too big for that,” says Sundermann. “For us, however, this is still a great benefit and a great opportunity, because it allows us to remain in contact with people and because we can also generate understanding for forest work.”

The small trees for the new plantings mainly grow in regional forest tree nurseries. SDW spokeswoman Krömer-Butz explains that these companies have specialized in the propagation of seeds for each climatic region with its different requirements.

Alternatively, you can also sow new forest, for example by placing acorns or chestnuts directly in the ground, explains Hessen forest spokeswoman Sundermann. Sometimes trees would also be moved within a stock – in technical jargon this is called “Wildings recruit”.

“Awareness of the forest changed again during Corona, because people were out and about in nature more,” Brüning-Bibo observed. Anyone who knows what it feels like to walk through an intact forest, with the typical smells, the fresh air and the coolness, will be all the more shocked when you stand on a bare area. The planting campaigns with citizen participation fulfilled – in addition to afforestation – another important purpose, adds Olaf Gierke from the Feldberg Initiative. “People talk to each other, they talk to the foresters and get a better understanding of their work.”


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