Der “Kampf um Wald und Kohle” – wie ein Wald Kristallisationspunkt einer politischen Auseinandersetzung wurde

Der Hambacher Forst ist derzeit wohl der meist diskutierte Wald in den deutschen Medien. Dieser Wald liegt nur rund 50 Kilometer westlich von Köln direkt an Europas größtem Braunkohletagebau. Von dem ehemals 5.500 Hektar großen Wald sind heute noch rund 500 Hektar übrig. Ab Oktober diesen Jahres wird vom Energiekonzern RWE die nächste Rodungssaison geplant, nach der noch knapp 200 Hektar des Waldes verbleiben werden. Doch seit Jahren regt sich Widerstand und macht den Wald zum Schauplatz eines Kampfes „um Kohle, Wald und Klima“, wie die Deutsche Welle kürzlich titelte. Was 2012 mit einer Besetzung des Waldes durch Umweltaktivist*innen begann, umfasst heute eine breite Protestbewegung vielfältiger Akteur*innen mit Bürger*innen aus umliegenden Dörfern oder auch von weiter weg, Umweltverbänden, Kirchengemeinden und vielen weiteren, die sich für den Erhalt des Waldes aussprechen.

Metsään meni – into the forest: Finnish delegation visits Bonn

How does the German forest look like for visitors from the north? There are taller trees and the exotic European beech, but the Norway spruce reminds us of home. We exchanged that and some other thoughts with a delegation from the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry[1] who visited the Bonn Office on the 29th of August. They were hosted by colleagues from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)[2] who also participated in a field visit to an urban forest in Bonn.

After a brief introduction about the EFI Resilience Programme, we had the opportunity to visit the Jägerhäuschen Marteloscope site, where Uwe Schölmerich, the head of the Regional Forest Enterprise Rhein-Sieg-Erft, kindly guided us.

Despite the obvious differences between German and Finnish forest ecology and management, many of the challenges we face are similar. Bark beetles have been causing damages in both countries for a long time, and the exceptionally hot and dry summer brought forest fires to the agenda in an entirely new way. Halting the loss of biodiversity is also an important part of current forest management and planning even if the systems are different.

Forest managers and other interested groups learn about integrated forest management in both countries. The use of demonstration sites such as e.g. Marteloscopes has proven a valuable tool for educating and creating a dialogue among various interest groups relating to different aspects of forest management. The Finnish delegation at the Jägerhäuschen Marteloscope clearly recognized it. They suggested adding a carbon sequestration component to the I+ software training tool which allows to visualize, how forest management decisions affect the carbon balance of the site and how wood products from harvested wood contribute to store carbon over many years. We thanked the Finnish delegation for this valuable input and expressed our hope that Marteloscopes may also find application in training and education in Finland in the near future.

[1] Juha Niemelä – The Head of the Natural Resources Unit; Heikki Granholm – Forest Counsellor; Teemu Seppä – Senior Adviser

[2] Axel Heider – Manager ‘Forestry Department’; Matthias Schwoerer- Head of ‘International Forest Policy Unit’; Aljoscha Requardt – International Forest Policy Unit

Opportunity to join our team in Bonn

EFI Bonn office window view
The windows of EFI Bonn offices overlook the river Rhein. Credit: H.Kruse/EFI

Since last year, when European Forest Institute’s office was set up in Bonn, the team has been growing fast. From just two scientists, it has now reached a number of 21 people, all passionate about forests.

One of the latest additions to the team were Ewa and Michele from the EUFORGEN Secretariat, who moved to Bonn from Rome in June. You can read more about them here and why they moved here.

Our Office Manager Heike Kruse has decided to only work part-time as of October, so we are looking for an addition to our team.

That could be you.

Wildfeuer auf kontaminierten Flächen

Hier ein Update zu einem erneuten Brand auf ehemaligem Militärgelände (Quelle: Spiegel online) und meine Kommentare dazu.

In Deutschland, vor allem im Osten, gibt es tausende Hektar aktive oder ehemalige Truppenübungsplätze. Naturschutzfachlich sind diese Flächen auf Grund der ehemaligen militärischen Störung äußerst wertvoll und zumeist auch NATURA 2000- Flächen. Leider sind die militärischen Hinterlassenschaften (UXO Unexploded Ordnace) nicht so wertvoll, sondern gefährden Umwelt, Boden, Grundwasser und im Falle von Wildfeuern auch die Einsatzkräfte.

Zwei Fragen stellen sich: Wie können wir den Offenland-Charackter dieser Natura 2000 Flächen erhalten und gleichzeitig die Sicherheit der Einsatzkräfte im Brandfall erhöhen?

It’s not too late to ensure your spot in Sardinia!

There is still time to submit an abstract to present at this year’s two satellite events during the European Forest Institute annual conference taking place in September on the second biggest island of Italy – Sardinia.

Both events touch upon the aspect of biodiversity at the level of genes. In fact, a rich genetic diversity of forest trees is like a resilience insurance: in the face of a climate change and pests and diseases, some trees will have genes that are resistant to these disturbances, thusenabling the forest to recover after some time.

However, the two scientific seminars go beyond resilience and genetic diversity.

Unusual Record: UK burnt area largest in Europe – so far

Thanks to the careful observation of colleagues at Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) we are able to report an unusual “record”: As of 11 June 2018, the largest burnt forest area in this year so far in Europe can be found in the United Kingdom. We are looking at 8049 ha of burnt area  that is more than the combined burnt area of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy together.

Forest Policy means Resilience – Wageningen Meeting

What do we mean when we talk about forest policy and governance? We also mean resilience. The Second International Forest Policy Meeting has presented it quite clearly.

More than hundred participants from 20 countries attended the Second International Forest Policy Meeting which took place in Wageningen between 11th and 13th of April. During the event, participants discussed four main themes: 1. Forest governance, 2. International policy&politics, 3. Community&society, and 4. Conflict&control. They could undeniably experience that forest policy is way more than the actions of powerful actors operated within an institutional structure and enhanced by bureaucracy.

Can forests be legal entities?

It seems obvious to most of us that specific species, animals, and plants, are protected by special laws and regulations. However, it is getting less natural when we talk about rivers, forests or trees as legal entities. Or maybe rather opposite?

The Guardian has recently published an article “It’s only natural: the push to give rivers, mountains, and forests legal rights” where author Jane Gleeson-White describes a recent tendency in the Western environmental legal system. “This new approach to environmental law was introduced in the US by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, whose first success came in 2006”, writes Gleeson-White. The discussion about legal rights for the environment and its elements, during last ten years, has exceeded debates within environmental philosophy and anthropology and happened to be a focal point of many social movements.

FSC und Greenpeace sind sich nicht grün

Ich finde, Greenpeace International und der Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) führen einen interessanten Dialog. Warum, werde ich im Folgenden ausführen:

Am 28.3.2018 hat Greenpeace-International seine Mitgliedschaft beim FSC-International auslaufen lassen, wie die Naturschutzorganisation mitteilte. Begründet wurde dieser Schritt mit der sehr ungleichen Umsetzung der FSC-Zertifizierung von Land zu Land und mit dem Versagen der FSC-Zertifizierung beim Schutz der Wälder. Insbesondere in Hoch-Risiko-Ländern leiste der FSC hier nicht genug, so Greenpeace. Die Naturschutzorganisation meint damit Länder, in denen Demokratie und Zivilgesellschaft schwach sind und in denen ein hohes Maß an Korruption herrscht. Greenpeace empfiehlt dennoch weiterhin die FSC-Zertifizierung, solange es sich um “FSC 100%” handelt – und nicht um “FSC-Mix” oder “FSC controlled wood” – und sich die zertifizierten Wälder nicht in Hochrisiko-Regionen befinden. PEFC und andere Zertifikate unterstützt Greenpeace nach wie vor nicht.

Hurricanes and the future of our forests

After Hurricane Maria blast over the Island of Puerto Rico in September 2017, the damage was severe and the aftermath difficult to evaluate. It flooded whole districts and left the island without electrical power for an extensive amount of time. Thousands of acres of Puerto Rico’s forests were damaged, and while it is estimated that 28,000 acres of the National Park El Yunque were destroyed, field research on the ground was still inconclusive. While remote-sensing data – satellite images or laser based measurements – are useful for preliminary results, they cannot replace basic scientific work on the ground.  A recent New York Times article featured a small team of researchers, which took on the task of evaluating Maria’s aftermath in El Yunque and compared ground observations with existing satellite data of the damage.