Report by Toan Le Xuan, Vietnam
After an introduction about the activities at the Hessen-Forst Forstamt (FMU) Bad Hersfeld by Mr Oliver Scholz and his colleagues I got a lot of information about the German forests.
Forestry in Germany
For people in Germany forests have always played an important role. They have consistently been a highly important economic factor, raw material supplier, climate regulator, habitat for flora and fauna and a place where people go for recreation. Today, almost one third of the ter-ritory of Germany is covered with forest, and forested areas have gradually increased over the past decades. Contrary to the natural potential vegetation, only about one third of the total forest area is now stocked with broadleaf trees. The other two thirds are predominantly pure or mixed conifer forests. Forests increased by approx. 1 million hectares in Germany over the past four decades.
Close-to-nature forest management
Close-to-nature forest management uses natural processes to develop both ecologically and economically valuable forests. Forest management in Germany virtually dispenses with pesticides and fertilizers. However, liming sometimes is used to improve the activity of soil bacteria after acid rain. Liming is the application (to soil) of calcium- and magnesium-rich materials in various forms, including marl, chalk, limestone, or hydrated lime. In acid soils, these materials react as a base and neutralize soil acidity. This often improves plant growth and increases the activity of soil bacteria, but oversupply may result in harm to plant life.
In Germany, natural regeneration of forest stands has become a well-accepted alternative to planting. The advantages of natural regeneration are avoiding high costs of planting large numbers of seedlings and having an often better adaptation to specific micro-sites. Natural regeneration occurs in much higher densities. However, natural regeneration cannot be planned as accurately as plantations. Additionally, its silvicultural initialization and maintenance may be difficult. This includes, but is not limited to, treatment of parent trees, the opening of the canopy just enough to create light conditions to foster regeneration or preparation of the seedbed.
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