Finger pointing in the ebrach forest

Sebastian schanz

in the ebrach forest, every felled beech is a political issue. Against the backdrop of the long and intensive tug-of-war over a national park in the steigerwald and the rejection by minister-president markus soder (CSU), it is not only nature conservationists who are asking: what happens next?? What the bavarian state forests plan to do with their 16,500 hectares of forest near ebrach in the coming fiscal year was therefore eagerly awaited. Nearly 40 interested people came to the information tour.
The proponents of a national park took note of a promise made by forestry manager ulrich mergner: "particularly thick beech trees will be protected as methuselah trees, and ecologically valuable trees will be protected as biotope trees." When a tree has reached 80 centimeters in diameter at breast height, it remains unaffected by the sagging process. Also if he uses branch holes or other breeding possibilities for the forest inhabitants. There will be no clear cutting. "Because weaker beech trees are also getting thicker, the number of trees over 60 centimeters will not decrease, even if individual trees are used to supply the native hardwoods", he said.

Grown long, fallen fast

Liebhard loffler, FDP county councilor and activist in the "fair chance for the steigerwald" alliance, think it’s a "milkmaid’s bill". Fallen trees are irretrievably gone, and it takes decades for them to grow back again. And above all: if all trees with a thickness of 60 centimeters always fall victim to the saga – how are further methusalem trees supposed to grow again?? Confronted with this criticism, mergner explained: "we leave ten biotope trees per hectare, which will grow quite tall and develop an important function for nature. And also with the other trees a part becomes methuselah, if it is uninteresting for the forestry, with rotational growth, crookedness or slope positions."

Coveted wood from the region

In the end, loffler and his comrades-in-arms also had praise for the sustainable management plan. "The plans call for a constructive process, towards more objectivity", said loffler.
The representatives of the forestry industry were also relieved: the 2,000 firewood customers, but especially the more than 20 regional sawmills specializing in hardwoods. "My customers appreciate the fact that the wood comes sustainably from the region", said stefan reinlein, who runs a sawmill with 60 employees in geiselwind. 2400 solid cubic meters of timber are expected to be harvested in the schmerb and oberschwarzach forests in the 2018/19 timber harvesting season. For the hardwoods are particularly interesting the trees with a thickness of 50 centimeters auarts, as mergner explained. These are of course also the focus of nature conservationists.
For them, especially the stepping stone concept is a step in the right direction, even though it is not new, but has existed since 2006. "Two rough nature reserves and over 40 small unused stepping stone areas together with the biotope trees and deadwood form an ecological network", explained mergner, who calmly led a tour through the schmerb forest district. The forestry manager calculated: six nature reserves between 23 and 183 hectares result in 430 hectares total area. In addition, there are more than 200 stepping stones and ecologically valuable forest rangers with 750 hectares of flat land. And the 150,000 biotope trees stretched with their crowns over 750 hectares. "All in all, that adds up to almost 2000 hectares of protected flatland, almost twelve percent of the total forest."
He sees the controversial area of ebracher forst, also known as hoher buchener wald, as not being a mountain. As far as the number of biotope or methusalem trees is concerned, there is more worth protecting in other places. But mergner sees the flat as secondary anyway, as he explained. It is more important to leave biotope trees standing and dead wood lying around. "The goal of forest management is a mixed deciduous forest rich in species." Especially the oak should be demanded in the future, but also deciduous trees such as maple and service tree. This is due to climate protection – but also to economic interests.
Speaking of interests: the supporters and opponents of a national park found hardly any common denominators during the information tour, of course. Again and again the discussion slipped into mutual accusations, especially some representatives of the opponents spoke out loudly here. There was consensus, however, that it is a good idea for the state forests to provide information about their plans on an annual basis.

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