Forests and forest protection are hot topics today. In the UN reports on climate and biodiversity, forests play a prominent role, both as carbon sinks and as biodiversity hotspots. ETH Zurich recently recommended a simple yet effective method of combating global warming: Plant trees! On the other hand, the effects of climate change can also be felt where forest areas have been actively expanded for centuries, e.g. in the forests of the city of Augsburg. Spruce forests groan under the weight of snow pressure, storms and bark beetle infestation, and dryness cause not only spruces but also deciduous trees to suffer.
“In forest management, our local partners pay close attention to the possibilities and limits of the forest ecosystem. Modern forestry is an excellent example of responsible land use, as demonstrated at the first Forest Experience Day by the Augsburg Forestry Office on behalf of Augsburg forest owners,” says Dr. Stefanie Eichiner, Manager Sustainability, UPM.
Sustainable forestry in Augsburg
The city of Augsburg has owned and managed its forests for 770 years. The long history has created a good basis for sustainable forestry in the city.
”The use of wood is only one aspect of modern forestry; this applies in particular to the forests of the city of Augsburg, where attention is paid to biodiversity, water protection and the recreational function of the forest,” says Eva Weber, mayor and forestry officer of the city of Augsburg.
Jürgen Kircher, head of the municipal forestry office, continues: “770 years of owning forests in the city of Augsburg also means cross-generational experience in sustainable forest management, which allows us to react to today’s challenges”. “The guiding principle is a near-natural, structured and species-richt mixed forest,” says Kircher.
The Forest Experience day in Augsburg brought people together to learn more about forestry. Dr. Stefanie Eichiner discusses sustainable papermaking with the first visitors to the UPM Communication Papers' booth at the meadow in Front of Lake Stempfle. The children investigate the coloring books made of UPM paper.
Forest education at the Augsburg Forest Experience Day
In order to give the general public insights into sustainable forest management, the city of Augsburg organized, for the first time, Forest Experience Day (“Walderlebnistag”) in the Siebentisch forest. The stands of the exhibitors were lined up on a meadow in front ot the Stempflesee, acting as a gateway into the forest for guided tours and demonstrations about forests, nature conservation and forestry. UPM Augsburg were invited to the event to present our sustainable product offering.
Along with the programme for the day, the visitors were given a routing slip for a quiz that led them to the stands of the participating associations, institutions and companies. At UPM’s stand, visitors were able to find out how often wood fibres can be recycled. Possible answers ranged from three to over twenty times. The right answer emerged during a discussion at the stand. “According to a study conducted this year by TU Darmstadt,” says Gerhard Mayer, Mill Manager, UPM Augsburg, “paper fibres can be recycled more than 20 times, which is much more often than previously assumed. The share of recovered paper in Augsburg’s fibre mix is 60 percent,” he continues. “This is good news with a view to circular economy. Nevertheless, not every wood fibre can be returned into the cycle, be it due to inappropriate collection, contamination or printing inks that are difficult to remove. Even the most sustainable paper production does not work without a moderate but steady input of fresh wood fibres. The cycle is not completely closed.” “Therefore it is all the more important,” adds Helfried Müller, Director, Wood Purchasing, Central Europe, “that we work with forest owners who manage their forests sustainably, such as the city of Augsburg, and supply us reliably with wood from areas near our mills.”
Thinning and regulated forestry
On the other hand, according to Jürgen Kircher, head of the forestry office, “we need a reliable buyer for so-called forest-thinnings, if we want to practice regulated forestry. This is especially true in times of storms, snow breakage and bark beetles, when a lot of wood has to be harvested which cannot be used in the construction and joinery industries because it is too thin.” Theo Wittmann, forester in the Brugger forestry office of the city of Augsburg, says: “In order to provide optimum growing conditions for the so-called future trees, which will later be made into beams and planks, we thin forest stands every 10 to 20 years, removing one or two neighbouring trees competing for light and water. The resulting wood is referred to as “paper wood”. It is not thicker in diameter than a stein, say the foresters. These terms are even understandable for laymen. In technical jargon, this type of harvesting is called “thinning”. Individual trees are harvested, but the stand as a whole with its canopy remains. Often forest visitors do not even notice that wood was recently harvested.
Active forestry enables the forest of the future
"Some competition among the trees is a good thing, because in this way they grow just enough to be able to be later used as a ridge beam. However, too much competition limits growth and makes the stand uniform and thus susceptible to storms and snow breakage,” says Eva Ritter, deputy head of the Augsburg forestry management department, on the subject of thinning. Then she explains another important point: "It is the thinnings that enable me as a forester to influence the future mix of tree species in forest stands”. Contrary to popular belief, most young trees are not planted by forest workers. Most of them originate from so called “natural rejuvenation”, i. e. from the seeds of the trees occurring in this area. And the ones that are best adapted to the respective location will grow. “Nature gives us the forest of the future,” says Eva Ritter. “Today we know that monocultures, such as the spruce forests wide-spread here in the post-war years, are very susceptible to diseases and extreme weather events. A mixed forest, on the other hand, is more resilient. With the thinnings and adapted wildlife populations, foresters ensure that the forest of the future has a healthy mix of species that can withstand storms and diseases. And, which can, even more importantly, fulfil the tasks of a city forest in the best possible way: enabling recreation, purifying water, storing carbon, and last but not least, providing a renewable resource on site.
Young firs as symbols for the future forests
In addition to the beech (fagus sylvaticus), the silver fir (abies alba) which also grows in Augsburg, is a symbol for the forest of the future. The fir is an important tree species which, with its taproots, withstands extreme weather events better than the spruce, and which also grows well in the the shade of large trees. It grows somewhat more slowly than spruce, but its wood has similar properties. At UPM’s stand, visitors were therefore able to admire young fir trees from the Haage tree nursery, which also supplies the municipal forest with plants. The forest owners among the visitors were also given a seedling to be planted for their forests.
For further information please contact:
Stefanie Eichiner, Manager Sustainability, UPM Communication Papers, Tel. +49 160 5348 214,
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