A report by Starford Mvula, Zambia, about his visit in North-Rhine-Westfalia in autumn 2016
This report describes the activities of my visit to Germany from 15th October-6th November 2016.This program was sponsored by the Forest Expert Program funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Introduction to German Forests and Professional hunting
During my first day in Germany, the first activity conducted by Dr.Nils Redde from Fitsoil was the introduction to German forests and professional hunting. I learnt that, Germany belongs to the most densely wooded countries in Europe covering one third of the nation with forests. Secondly I learned about hunting as one of the forest management tools to protect young plants against wild animals. The other thing I discovered was that German forest are shaped by humans specifically for production. The main tree species are Douglas fir, Spruce, Beech, Oak, Larch, Pine and other deciduous trees and mainly in mixed forest stands. These forests are owned by the state and private communities. Private forest owners sometimes consult the state forest department to help them managing their forest and do the marketing.
Hunting is one of the management techniques in the forests in order to prevent young trees from destruction from wild animals such as red and roe deer. In Zambia the major threats in the plantations are the wild fires because of the tropical temperature. My involvement and participation in the professional hunting was a good experience as this was a new technique in the management of forests. This activity was conducted in the evening after 5 pm.
Sustainable ways of thinning
Sustainable thinning is another technique used in the forest management. This technique involves the selection and identification of the good tree stands that are considered to be future trees. The trees adjacent to future trees with crowns growing towards the selected stands are cut to avoid competition. This activity is conducted every five years and this gives advantage to the future stands to grow without any interference from others trees. The trees thinned are used for various purposes like paper production and other uses.
Cooperation between land owners
Fitsoil represented by Dr. Nils Redde and the State Forest Department were the major stakeholders who facilitated this activity in both state forest and private forests. Mrs. Dietsche from the state forest department explained the roles the department plays in the private owned forests. The Provincial State Forest Office showed me the state forest in Bonn and explained the history of the state forest and how forests are being managed. Collaboration between the state and the landowners, traditionally as well as nowaways.
Practical exercise in wood utilization
Germany as one of the leading countries in Europe in terms of forests is also a major producer of forest products such as fire wood, poles and timber. These forest products are utilized in a sustainable manner and in various industries such as timber for constructions, fire wood for warming houses, furniture and paper production. Germany also exports forest products to some neighbouring countries.
German State Forest History and Organisation
In the forest office of Bonn, the head Uwe Schölmerich explained the state of the forests in Bonn to me. After the verbal explanation he showed me the state forest and I learnt how effective state forests are managed in that area. During my visit in these forests I learnt that German people value the forests so much as they can be used in so many ways and various activities take place in forests, Forests provide firewood, harbouring water bodies, poles and habitats for wild animals. Uwe Schölmerich added a very interesting and unique service the forests play to the general public: German forests are used for recreation and are open to everyone be it state or private. People use them for relaxing, exercising, horse riding, cycling and enjoy the nature.
Open Cast Mining and Recultivation Process.RWE
The open cast mining is the system of mining where the ground earth is opened until minerals are found underground. After the minerals are depleted the open pits are backfilled and rehabilitated to its usefulness. The host RWE AG represented by Gregor E?er explained how the process of recultivation begins. I also visited one of the sites to experience how the process is being done. In the afternoon I joined Elmar Kampkötter in one of the former mining area in the recultivated forest within the RWE mining area. I saw how the young trees were performing in the former mining open pit. That included how soil erosion was being prevented through planting certain plant species to avoid running water sweep the top soil with nutrients.
Mining Practice in Open Cast Mining areas RWE
Before the end of the day I joined Jannis Boyan from the open cast mine planning who later showed me the open pit mining areas. He explained how conveyor belts operate from the badger to the final point. I was further taken to the biggest excavator on earth in the mining industry. Jannis introduced me to the two operators on site. Further he went on to explain how the machine operates and how much per tonnage it produces per minute. Later I was taken into the machine. That was one of the biggest achievements. I might have been the only guy from Africa who was allowed to climb the machine
Agriculture Recultivation RWE
The next day I had the opportunity to meet Michael Ortmann, an officer in charge of agriculture recultivation at RWE. Just like forest recultivation, different types of crops are planted in the recultivated land. The officer had time to explain everything before going in the field to see machinery working. In the late afternoon I met Gregor who is in charge of land use, strategic planning process of recultivation operational who further explained the strategies and processes applied in the recultivation before and in the process of utilizing the land in various manners.
Concept of nature protection, geological history of Eifel Mountains
The Forest officer of Bonn Uwe Deckert under the German State Forest of North Rhine Westfalia took up the task to teach me the concept of nature protection as an important tool to prevent nature from being disturbed. He spoke about the importance of conserving nature because it plays a bigger role not only to the human being but wild life as well and that included the history and geology of the Eifel mountains.
Mining, Land use of Vulcanious areas and German history of Koblenz
The mining, land use of vulcanious areas and the history of Koblenz was taught by Björn Schäfer who took me in one of the museums where there were demonstrations of how volcanoes work and how the formation of the hot magma happens. I learnt the mining started in the old days and techniques including the hand tools they used for mining at that time. Underground I learnt more about mining and learnt other things like how beer used to be brewed and kept underground.
Wild life in German
During my stay in German I had an opportunity to get to know German wildlife and this activity was facilitated by Dr. Nils Redde. He explained to me the common animals and their behaviour and this was very interesting for me as I had opportunity to see some wildlife like the wild pigs and deers. In addition to that, I had an opportunity to visit the Zoo of Cologne.
Harvesting and Sustainable Management of Forests
The activity was undertaken by Fitsoilt hrough Dr. Nils Redde and it was from 07:00-19-00.This was one of the good experiences in Germany. I spent most of my time in the forest. This activity taught me a number of things as forests are very important and play an important role for both human and wildlife. This activity showed how to select and consider factors before harvesting takes place as there various uses of timber. The factors included were the type of tree to be for firewood, construction and paper production. This was applicable for both thinning purpose to allow future trees grows without disturbances and old tree specifically meant for different uses because they have grown and reached the age of harvesting.
Eifel National Park
The German Forest Society represented by Marcus Kühling facilitated the activity by taking all the orientation of the national park. In this category I learnt about the park management and interacted with so many people. I learnt about how different types of animals are taken care of and how it has added value both to local people and those from outside like me.
Hunting was the last activity in which I took part one day before leaving Germany and this was interesting. I had never seen such a big group of hunters in my life. The hunting lasted for three hours and four to five wild pigs were shot at that time. According to professionals hunters this amount was small compared to the past hunting with thirty wild animals per day. Nevertheless for me that was a success because in my life and in my country I have never participated in a hunt before and that was my first time to see an organised group of hunters before.
The experiences from Germany were very beneficial to be implemented to my home land Zambia. All the host institutions including the people I met supported me positively and I enjoyed cordial relationship rendered to me.
In every new place there are challenges because of the nature of the environment. During the first days it has been very difficult for me to adapt to European weather as was very cold every day. The other thing was the language, but despite all these challenges things started getting normal and better as days went on until the last day of departure on 6th November 2016.
During my stay in German everything went on smoothly, I never faced problems to affect my stay. People were good, there were no cases of discrimination and I hope there will be another opportunity for me to visit Germany. Lastly I would like to thank the sponsors like the Forest Expert Program, the President and Dr. Nils Redde.