Forest in sight!

The Kottenforst, a forest of over 4000 hectares large that together with the Siebengebirge on the opposite side of the Rhine, holds Bonn in a green embrace. So close yet so unknown to some. The Kottenforst dominates and clearly delineates the west of the city, perched on the Venusberg, a southern hill of the Ville massif. It is even visible from our EFI office.

The Kottenforst embracing Bonn. Somewhere in the upper right corner behind the tall tower: the EFI Bonn office.

The Kottenforst offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life to countless inhabitants of the urbanised region. It also provides us at the EFI Bonn office an ideal outdoor classroom, with two existing marteloscopes (in an oak and in a beech stand) and one in the making (spruce). Just this week an exercise was organised for interested EFI Bonn staff members in our beloved Jägerhäuschen marteloscope.

Excited EFI colleagues exploring a Kottenforst marteloscope

With its predominantly flat terrain and long straight forest roads, the Kottenforst may seem monotonous to some, but on a closer look, it is actually quite diverse. The eastern slopes offer some magnificent views of the city and the Siebengebirge, and the tree species composition is dominated by oak and a variety of other broadleave species. The forest is also strewn with ponds, little streams and open meadows. In order to enhance this natural diversity and support the diverse flora and fauna, the LIFE+ project Villewälder was started in 2014 in cooperation with the regional forest district Rhein-Sieg-Erft. The main focus of this project is the conservation of the characteristic oak-hornbeam forests.

In order to achieve their goals, the team members of the LIFE+ project realised that they needed to get a better idea of the motivations and user patterns of the forest visitors. The Kottenforst is heavily frequented but little is known about the number of visitors, their spatial distribution and their preferences and drivers. In order to get a clearer view on the recreational and social functions of the forest, the Villewälder team recently approached EFI’s Resilience Programme. Together we will start a small research on the human factor in the equation. We are planning to monitor the recreational use of the Kottenforst throughout the year and inquire people’s motivation to visit the forest, as well as their perception of different forest types and forest management strategies. When successful, the outcomes will provide valuable information from both a scientific and a management perspective. This cooperation between the local forest district and EFI could become a nice example of connecting knowledge to action. To be continued!

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