Why do we need natural forests?
Why is it important that Germany should withdraw forests from forestry management? Beech forests are among Central Europe’s most pristine ecosystems. They once covered two-thirds of Germany’s current land area. Today, it is only a fraction. Native tree species have been strongly replaced by plantations of pine and spruce. In the long run, natural forest development can provide habitats for a broad spectrum of native species in all phases of forest development and with native tree species. In addition, forests without forestry management bind considerably more carbon dioxide annually and are an important to reduce CO2 emissions in the climate crisis.
Five percent natural forest in Thuringia
Natural forest development has been a goal of German forest policy since 2007. According to the National Strategy on Biodiversity, the area percentage of forests with natural forest development was to be five percent of Germany’s forest areas as early as 2020. This target has not been achieved. In 2018, Thuringia committed to allowing five percent of Thuringia’s forest areas to become unmanaged by 2029. These forests are to develop naturally. In addition to nature conservation and climate policy, they should also serve tourism and recreation.
This video shows map animations of historical and present-day beech forest occurrences. Another animation illustrates which forest areas in Thuringia are being taken out of forestry use to be converted into natural forests.
Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (2007): Nationale Strategie zur biologischen Vielfalt. Online: https://www.bmuv.de/fileadmin/Daten_BMU/Pools/Broschueren/nationale_strategie_biologische_vielfalt_2015_bf.pdf (Abruf: 23.02.2023).
Thüringer Landesamt für Umwelt, Bergbau und Naturschutz: Wildnis in Deutschland und Thüringen. Online: https://www.naturwaldwandel.de/vorhaben/ (Abruf: 23.02.2023).