Exchange for Sustainability


German forestry and implementation of EU Timber Regulation

Report by Li Ming, China

I applied for the Forest Expert Program because of my strong interests on German forestry and implementation of EU Timber Regulation. The trip was very well managed by the German Forest Society which met all my demands. Although I keep focusing on German forestry from literature and internet, the field learning gave me a precious opportunity to go into the forest to see how the forest is managed and discuss with the German experts about the stories behind. All the German experts receiving me were very professional and willing to share their knowledge and experience with me. I had a very fruitful trip and the achievement is beyond my expectations.

This program provides custom-tailored itinerary for each participant which is very different from other training programs that I have participated. The one-to-one communication is very efficient and targeted. I have learned a lot. It must take much more time for the organizer to coordinate the specific program but the effect is much better than a traditional workshop for dozens of participants following the same agenda. Mrs. Sabine Kühling, the coordinator for this program is doing excellent work. She decided my program concerning my needs and attempted to find the right host organisations and persons to visit. She arranged all the logistics issues for participants considerately and even worked on weekends and nights to help us travel smoothly. She respected all our interests and gave feedback on our questions even standing in our perspective because of her rich experiences on forestry development in other countries.

During the one-month training in Germany I visited governments, enterprises, associations and research organisations to see how EUTR is implemented in Germany and how they support each other to improve the implementation. I visited several forest district offices to learn their close to nature forest management practices to ensure multi-functional forest on site and how they compile the management plan for next year and 10 years. I also visited the rehabilitation and healing forest to understand the development and progresses made for this new type of utilisation.

Here are the key points I would like to highlight which gave me inspiration to my work:
a) Forest products trade and timber industry:

  • Cooperation between EU member states and the cooperation between EU and VPA country enable the information exchanges on EUTR enforcement.
  • BLE is doing sampling inspection on operators based on the assessment of timber origin, species, volume and unusual cases.
  • Thünen Centre of Competence on the Origin of Timber provides technical support on EUTR implementation, especially on wood identification.
  • The associations develop tools and guidelines for companies to understand the situation in producing countries and better fulfil the DDS obligation.

b) Sustainable forest management:

  • Close to nature forest management is the core concept of German forestry which keeps the target trees and cuts the surrounding trees blocking the growth of target trees.
  • Multi-functional forest is very common in Germany. The forest always fulfills ecological, social and economic functions at the same time with various objective for different forest area.
  • The forest management planning, based on the current status of the forest resources, gives an outlook of the work for 10 years. The foresters decide by themselves on the annual working plan which shows the flexibility of forest management practice at local level.

c) Rehabilitation and healing forest:

  • Germany developed the first European rehabilitation and healing forest in Usedom/Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (MV) with support from the federal government, forest owners and related industries.
  • Rehabilitation and healing forest is still at the early stage of development. Education on forest therapy is helping to improve awareness and capacity of forest and health professionals. It is tried to add forest therapy in public health insurance as a prevention method.