Kulmbach forest owners resort to chainage despite corona crisis

Anyone who has been out walking in nature in the past few days may have noticed how many forest owners are out in the open. They say, limb and load what the stuff holds. One of them is stefan leykam (48) from feulersdorf. He explains: "now the weather is good, now you do not make damage." During the wet, mild winter, the ground had been too soft to drive on with tractor or skidder.

There are other reasons why people are working so hard in the forest at the moment. "In the forest I am in the fresh air. I don’t come into contact with anyone there", says forest owner roland kauper (59) from wonsees. Normally he works as a freelance accident assessor. Until three weeks ago, he was on the road almost every day, but since the exit restriction, he has only been sitting at his desk from time to time. "I spend most of the rest of the time working in the forest", according to kauper.

Borkenkafer flies again soon

Forest owners "are allowed" to now they are not only "allowed" to go into the forest, they "should" even. In a press release dated 1. On april, forestry minister michaela kaniber made it clear: "to minimize future damage from the bark beetle, bavarian forest owners should ensure that freshly damaged spruce trees, such as those caused by storm sabine in february, are quickly cleaned up." Even when working in the forest, it is important to observe the necessary rules of infection control and to keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from others. For safety reasons, however, at least two people must be on the ground and have visual contact when working with the motorsage.

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"The remaining damaged wood must be cleared up", explains andreas sommerer, deputy head of the forestry department in kulmbach. Because from the middle/end of april at the latest, the bark beetle will awaken from its winter dormancy, fly out and infest new trees. The forestry department is preparing for a new kafer year with "more personnel on the flat and in the office", explains sommerer. Since the beginning of march, two trained foresters have been hired to support the forest districts in the frankenwald area. Another position in the administration will be filled at the beginning of may at the latest.

Contractor benjamin tauber from berndorf and his employees are also preparing for a busy season. "We are fully booked until the end of the year", says tauber. He is on the road every day, even at weekends. For his customers he cuts trees, works them up and drives them to the storage places. According to the contractor, the corona crisis has not changed his daily work. They start at 6 o’clock in the morning. They often work until after sunset. "The jerk has light", jokes tauber.

Unpredictability in the timber trade

The forest owners association kulmbach-stadtsteinach is currently working with only half capacity. "Some of our employees have to take care of their children, and we take that into account," explains sommerer, says managing director theo kaiser. They are doing their best to keep the consultation going, but personal meetings with forest owners have been avoided as much as possible.

"Simply call and give the floor number. We’ll take a look at it", kaiser advises forest owners. There are no problems with the marketing of the wood at the moment, but what will happen next is still up in the air, he said. "If the sawmills can’t sell lumber or the workforce gets sick, then the lumber might not make it", he mutmabt.

Effects not to be discounted

Steffen rutert, head of roundwood purchasing at the sagewerk "gelo holzwerke in weibenstadt in the district of wunsiedel says: "at the moment we can’t estimate what effects the crisis will have on the timber trade. There are too many uncertainties in terms of personnel availability and sales markets." However, the company is convinced that things will pick up again after the crisis, because wood is needed everywhere.

Wood is in demand even in times of crisis. "We produce system-relevant products such as wood for boxes or pallets. They are always needed, for example to transport pharmaceutical products", explains hans-jorg schon, roundwood buyer at sagewerk josef ziegler gmbh in plobberg in the upper palatinate region of germany. Although there is currently a lack of personnel residing in the czech republic, the cross-border movement of goods is not restricted. According to the report, the log drivers who fetch the wood from the storage yards still continue to work at a normal pace.

Timber exports to china are up and running again

In the vicinity of plobberg, in betzenmuhle, there is another sawmill that belongs to the ziegler group. As a single site, it is the largest in europe, with an operating area of around 45 hectares. The company processes more than two million solid cubic meters of roundwood there every year, including from upper franconia. Beams, squared lumber and boards are shipped all over the world in shipping containers.

"At the moment we are seeing a drop in demand in the european area, but exports to china are starting up again", a spokesman explains. The company has very rough capacities, but "if this year is a coffee year like 2019, we’ll be pushed to our limits even with our evasive surfaces".

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