Exchange for Sustainability


Natura 2000 in Germany

by Ekaterine Balarjishvili, Georgien


Report about the stay in Germany in autumn 2019

By Ekaterine Balarjishvili, Georgia

I am currently working at the LEPL National Forestry Agency, at the Forest Inventory Department in Georgia as a chief specialist. My expectations and objectives to take part in the Forest Expert Program were:
•    To gain more information and knowledge of following subjects:
•    The methods of implementation of Forest Inventory and the structure of the management plan in Germany;
•    The Forest Inventory (NFI) practice in Germany;
•    About `Emerald Network` (Natura 2000) - How to get information on such territories?
•    What kind of information is available?
•    What methods are available to obtain information?
•    How is it possible to integrate obtained information into management plan?
•    How is it possible to monitor the area afterwards?

19th September
I attended a big meeting of forest owners in Freising. The president Mr Josef Ziegler made a presentation and announced the current situation of the forests, he informed about the low prices of timber due to the low quality caused by bark beetles. The other representative was from the Bavarian State ministry for Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Robert Morigl. His presentation was about climate change, the influence on forests and the results. The climate change is THE main discussing issue of the government. People in the meeting were discussing reducing of the cuts, increasing reforestation and plantation by seeds and managing forests close to nature.
In the second part of the day at the Bavarian State ministry, I acquainted with Natura 2000 in Germany. It was presented by Mr. Alexander Rumpel. The goal of Bavaria’s nature conservation policy is to maintain and further develop the biodiversity, habitat diversity and recreational value of our landscape.

20th September
Bavarian State Institute of Forestry, Freising
Mr. Wolfgang Stöger presented information of the Bavarian State Institute of Forestry, which is a special agency within the Bavarian Forestry Administration. The Institute has a team of specia-lists that supports the forestry department of the Bavarian State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and its regional offices.
I want to emphasize the scientific research, which is developing climate risk maps for tomorrow’s forest, thus creating an important basis for forward-looking forest advisory services.
The Institute is developing new methods for mapping important animal species for Natura 2000. A mould aspirator helps them to detect rare beetles in tree cavities.
The Bavarian State Institute of Forestry gives expert advice on NATURA 2000 management in forests. This includes the pre¬paration and further development of practical support materials and mapping manuals for identifying and recording habitat ty¬pes and species worthy of protection. Local mapping teams re¬ceive advice and training.
An issue that is more essential is KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AND FOREST PEDAGOGY.
By putting together relevant, up-to-date publications, specialist conferences, training programmes and exhibitions that are ap¬propriate for the target group, the LWF makes a significant con¬tribution to the public relations work of the forestry administrati¬on. The institute is also a driving force behind developments in Forest Pedagogy, and coordinates the certification of forest-ped¬agogues in Bavaria. Then Mr. Stöger presented the concert of the National forest Inventory of Bavaria
NFI will considerably contribute to informing the policy processes and the public in the context, among others, of forest management and biodiversity conservation. The results of NFI are significant at the international and national levels and the regional level. However, they cannot convey assertions for smaller reference units well. The number of samples is often too small for statistically substantiated evaluations.
With Mr. Wolfgang we visited one of the sample plots, to show how sampling is carried out.

23th September, Göttingen
Faculty of Forest Science and Forest Ecology (Prof. Achim Dohrenbusch);
Prof. Dohrenbusch’s presentation fascinated me, and made me want to attend a PhD program at the faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology.
The Chair of Forest Inventory and remote sensing Dr. Lutz Fehrmann presented the subject of Forest inventories on different spatial levels (stand level, enterprise level and National Forest Inventory in Germany).
Dr. Fehrmann is one of the forest experts in Georgia. Until now there is a very good relationship between the National Forestry Agency and Dr. Fehrmann.

24th September
The meeting with Mr. Hans Fuchs (GIS expert and PhD) was very surprising as we already knew each other from Georgia. We had very interesting discussion about current inventory events in Georgia, challenges and problems like statistical data and their calculations. He showed me the forest inventory faculty’s gallery, it looks like museum as there are presented for instance first forest management plan, first equipment and so on.
It was a pleasure to get more information about the German Forest Society, which was presented by Alexandra Arnold. I like the society’s slogan `Wir sind Wald` (We are Forest!).
This is very good connection for forestry professionals to unite and promote their interests. The DFV is active in forest policy, nature conservation, education, and sharing information. This organization has not only local importance but also on a global level.
25th September
I visited Göttingen city forest with other members of the FEP-group. Our guide was forester Mr. Martin Levin. He showed the forest which main species are beech – 65% and other hardwoods (sycamore, ash, cherry and etc.) – 27%, oak – 1 %, pine, Larch – 3%.
It was very interesting to see two reference plots: one of them is managed by foresters and other one by nature. To my surprise forest managed by foresters was more well-conditioned than the other part.
26th September
Forest Economics and sustainable land use planning - Prof. Carola Paul
Prof. Paul presented forest management planning in Germany.

27th September, Creuzburg, Thuringia
I had a factory tour at Pollmeier in Creuzburg, Thuringia, which operates the most powerful sawmills for beech wood. It is the world’s first producer of beech laminated veneer lumber. The factory is huge and well organized.
Afterwards I visited Wartburg Castle – it was so amazing and I enjoyed the views.

30th September, Immenstadt, Bavaria
Mr. Boris Mittermeier described Natura 2000 main subjects and issues, its meaning, what is a favorable conservation status; which species are protected by the Natura 2000, how the sites are selected, which IT program is used for Natura 2000 data. The forest research institute provide with infrared photos, which helps to identify species, inclinations, forest roads, shrub layer in the forests. Every 3 years infrared photos aretaken.
Natura 2000 forests are divided by assessment categories (A, B and C). These categories are account into the process of forest management. Foresters decide what kind of needs are essential to fulfil for forests.
Mr. Mittermeier explained the forest management plan for Natura 2000, which are made separate from other parts of forests. The measuresare also different.
Mr. Mittermeier showed parts of Natura 2000: Restoration of bog woodlands in the forests. In former times, bog woodland represented a typical ecosystem within larger forests. However, bog woodlands have been affected by human intervention more than other ecosystems and what is left today is mostly endangered and ineffective. Due to its importance for the climate and for various species, there is a strong need for action.
Near-natural bogs stabilize the landscape’s hydrologic balance. In conditions of extreme rainfall, they have a regulatory effect on water runoff, thus having an influence, about water protection, on high water and erosion. They also serve as a buffer and filter by retaining substances dissolved in the water.
Intact bogs store carbon, as they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) during growth and store it in the peat over the long term. They are natural climate protectors, acting as ‘sinks’ for climate-relevant gas.
Because they began to develop thousands of years ago, and because of the preservative conditions and the resistance of their layers, bogs serve as archives of natural and cultural history. Bog vegetation developments (retraceable by means of pollen diagrams) and embedded animal and plant remains make it possible to reconstruct our environment far back into the past.
1st October
Together with Mr. Mittermeier and with a higher nature conservation authority I went on a field trip. I saw how the team is working outside, how they are discussing for making important decisions.    
2nd October
Together with Mr. Mittermeier I visited sites of Natura 2000.
Afterwards we visited Schwangau village and the royal castles Neuschwanstein in front of powerful Alpine peaks, Allgäu hills and idyllic lakes.

3rd October
Mr. Anton Specht described Natura 2000’s main issues.

4th October, Schwangau, Füssen
Mr. Lothar Poltmann showed the taxation card and methodology of assessment forest.

7th, 8th and 9th October, Traunstein
I visited both state-owned forests and private forests. Their territory size are: private forests – 368 km2 and state-owned forests - 588 km2. Main species are: Spruce – 55%; Pine – 6%; Fir – 3%; Larch – 1%; Beech – 10%; Oak - 1%; Other broad-leaved trees – 24%.
There are three basic functions of equal status that can be derived from the forest law: Economic function (production of wood); Protective function (conservation of nature); Recreational function.
The forest law shall in particular serve these purposes:
To maintain and if necessary increase the forest area; to preserve or establish a condition of the forest that is appropriate to the location and as close to nature as possible; to secure and strengthen the protective capacity, health and performance of the forest in the long term; to secure and increase the production of wood and other natural resources through sustainable forest management; to enable the population to relax in the forest and to improve the recreational opportunities; to conserve and, if necessary increase forest biodiversity; to support and encourage forest biodiversity; to support and encourage forest owners and their self-help institutions in the pursuit of these goals; to strike a balance between the interests of the general public and those of forest owners.
Main tasks of the office: on the basis of the forests law the main tasks of the office are: execution of the sovereign tasks; managing the government funding of forest (private forests); consulting service for private forest owners.
Due to climate change, extreme weather events, drought and heat periods increase. As a result, infestation by bark beetle species are increasing, too.
     The concept of AELF Traunstein to control bark beetle pests is essentially based on the following: information, education, education and further training of forest owners;
     Public relations work
     Sovereign action

9th October, Wasserburg
Meeting Mr. Heinz Utschik
We visited forests and discussed what the main functions of foresters are.
The forest holding Wasserburg is managing 19,612 hectares of state forest. It consist of 10 districts, each about 2000 hectares in size.
Areas with special functions within the forest holding Wasserburg: closed forest – 12282 ha; protective forest – 103 ha, nature conservation area 220 ha; Natura 2000 – 3699 ha; water protection area – 3147 ha; landscape conservation area – 8327 ha.
There were discussions about results of the forest management planning: tree species mixture; Key aspects of activity – Regeneration; Aims of tending. They described and showed charts of management principles for spruce and mixed spruce stands; There was a very interesting climate scenario for these forest (spruce, Douglas, beech, ash, oak) areas in the years 2050 and 2100.
We were part of a TV program as Mr. Utschik gave an interview for TV. His interview was about the current situation of forests, about climate change outcomes, about bark beetles and prevention acts against them.
10th October, Ebersberg
Mr. Martin Bachman’s presentation was about Natura 2000 and management parts of Natura 2000 areas. Mr. Tobias Schultz was presenting the forest office’s main obligations. For me it was very interesting to see Natura 2000 management plan as forest education system.
We visited forests under the management of Natura 2000. There are special attitudes for protected species, animals, birds.
11th October, Berchtesgaden, National Park.
Meeting Mr. Bernd Becker
The setting is unique: rugged cliffs, deep dark forests, wild torrents and glaciers, as well as peaceful green pastures, idyllic valleys, marmots, rare orchids, over 700 different kinds of butterflies, chamois, ibex, red deer and several pairs of golden eagles. The variety here is extensive; it is a unique little world where the nature can develop and where people can breathe in a healthy environment. Numerous activities allow visitors to experience this beauty and to reach it easily. A special "hikers' bus", for instance, takes passengers from Hintersee to Bindalm pasture and on to Hirschbichl.
14th October, Erfurt, Thuringia
I listened to Dr. Andreas Niepagen’s presentations about Thuringia, its history, geographical and cultural story. Another presentation was about Thüringen forest office (Thüringenforst).
I learnt:
     At the Thüringen forest office the management of all ownerships is combined
     There is one management plan for Natura 2000 and other forest areas, the silvicultural operations is planned for both parties. Information about Natura 2000 species are collected by specialists
     The information material such as brochures, leaflets and books are comprehensive and at a high quality giving advice and information about trees species, birds and mosses.
     `Nature pedagogic` for schoolchildren


15th October, Gotha
Mr. Andreas Reinkober explained the structure of management plan for both `Natura 2000` and other part of forests. On the second part of day we visited the state forest part.
16th October
Visit of the Hainich National Park, Thuringia
Mr. Manfred Großmann gave us information about the Hainich National park, which is primeval forest in the center of Germany. Its area is 16,000 ha, forest area is 13 000 ha and the dominating species is beech (11,000ha). It is the largest compact deciduous forest in Germany. Hainich is characterized geologically by shell limestone; there are some local loess accumulations.
Hainich’s southern part – today’s National park, has been served for the army for decades. As parts of this area could not be used for forestry for the last 40 years these woodlands have been able to develop without human interference and have come close to a virgin natural forest, that has disappeared in middle Europe for a long time. The Hainich National Park represents a habitat mosaic consisting of nutrient-poor chalky grasslands at the edges with many pond and little waters spreading all over, with bushes and little tree groups changing into large spaces overgrown with bushes that change into the largest part, woodlands with tremendously impressive old trees, shaped trees and dead trees, deciduous forest with various species and structures and several endangered animals like the wild cat and middle spotted woodpecker.
The magnificent beech forest in the geographical centre of Germany creates the effect of a green cathedral: with pillars made of smooth, straight beech trunks and a roof made of high friendly green crowns of leaves.
17th October, Gotha
Meeting Mr. Ingolf Profft
ThüringenForst – Institution under public law was established in 2012. It is responsible for managing 2,040,000 ha of state-owned forests of the free state of Thuringia/Germany on behalf of the Thuringian Ministry for infrastructure and agriculture. It has 24 forestry offices and 279 forest districts and its headquarters are located in Erfurt. Additional unit belonging to ThüringenForst are the forest research and competence center Gotha, the forest education center Geher, 3 forest youth hostels and a tree nursery. It has about 1300 employees.
18th October
Meeting with Mr. Sergej Chmara, ThüringenForst
Mr Chmara presented and showed many projects of GIS, drone machines, of laser and other new equipment. He gave a lot of information, which I have shared with my colleagues.

My conclusions from the FEP hospitation:
The Forest Expert Program gave me chance to know not only a high level of forest management but I also to saw very beautiful cities and villages of Germany – there are: Munich; Freising; Göttingen; Nürnberg; Immenstadt, Traunstein; Wasserburg; Berchtesgaden; Gotha; Erfurt; Frankfurt;  many villages.
The forest expert program was very well organized in everything: transport, hotels, professional and friendly people.
Germany is amazing, extraordinary, and beautiful with high culture, professional and friendly people. I am astonished until now.
Thank you very much for your energy and time.