Humans originate from arboreal primates, so to really understand the forest, you have to experience it from the canopy. This is what the famous French botanist and conservationist Francis Hallé believes. Despite his respectable age, the spry octogenarian had no issues demonstrating his capability to do so on the tree top path next the biosphere centre in the Pfälzerwald.
Located on the French border, in the middle of the largest contiguous forest in Germany, this centre is the location of the Wasgauer Gespräche/les entretiens du Wasgau. Every second year, this bilingual event brings together people from the French and the German sides of the border to talk about various nature-related topics. This year’s question was: how much nature do humans need? Speaking on behalf of EFI and the Integrate network, I was the only presenter to talk about the pragmatic need for wood, and how integrative forest management can be a solution for providing needed draw materials while also conserving biodiversity. This however does not mean that it is the best solution everywhere. In some places a more intensive management style makes sense, while in others the wise option is to leave nature to itself. And this is exactly the case made by Francis Hallé during the opening session of the event.