Giving something back to the forest

A small status report on a big issue

As a long-time supporter of the Bergwaldprojekt e.V., we wanted to briefly introduce the work of the association here. We are happy to contribute to the many actions that are intended to preserve the vital eco-system forest for future generations. A look at the current state of the forest shows that there is a lot to do. It makes us all the more proud that joint commitment creates immediate successes.

There is no question: our forest has been better. The lack of rainfall, heat waves and storms are just as damaging as unnatural monocultures or massive pest infestations. Yet it is essential for our survival: it provides healthy air, stores drinking water, stabilises the climate, ensures biodiversity, supplies us with wood and quality of life. We want to preserve this. That’s why we support Bergwaldprojekt e.V., one of two projects we regularly sponsor as part of the environmental initiative 1% for the Planet. While we support ecological development in India with Sadhana Forest, the Bergwaldprojekt helps our local nature. The idea behind 1% for the Planet is as simple as it is successful: companies donate 1% of their annual turnover, and the environmental initiative uses the financial resources for carefully screened projects. So what has our funding partner Bergwaldprojekt e.V. achieved recently?

Concrete results: 1 year = 400,000 new trees

In the past year 2020, more than 400,000 new trees were planted. A great success considering the difficult situation due to Corona… Many planned actions had to be cancelled and postponed to the next year. Compared to the previous year, “only” 8,609 project days could be realised. In 2019, there were almost twice as many days: 16,464. Due to the persistent drought, there is a need for action in many places: the dry spring of 2020 followed two years with extremely little precipitation: as a result, the soils are drier than ever. This is particularly hard on forest areas with many conifers. In contrast to mixed forests, they react much more sensitively to prolonged drought. Reforestation with more resistant tree species is therefore high on the agenda of the mountain forest project. The goal is to develop more diverse, near-natural and ecologically valuable forests. In 2020, the project dedicated 13 project weeks to ecological forest conversion, and the trend is rising.

Sustainable project: The Future Forest in Thüringen

In 2020, a big dream came true for the Bergwaldprojekt team. Together with the Greenpeace Environmental Foundation, they acquired a 200-hectare forest area in Thuringia. The forest area, located between Schmalkalden and Oberhof, is to show by practical example how near-natural forest use has a sustainable positive impact on our environment. Specifically, the tree population is to be rejuvenated: away from monoculture and towards more tree diversity. This makes the forest more resistant to drought and storms and also helps to store water and nutrients in the soil. A healthy ecological forest system is also characterised by a lower internal forest temperature, which reduces the risk of forest fires. It also creates a valuable habitat for many animal and plant species.

Human added value: social teamwork

However, the work of the Bergwaldprojekt is not only good for the environment. In addition to nature conservation work, the association also promotes development on a social level: in the numerous projects, volunteers and honorary workers work together hand in hand. They experience at first hand what it means to do something for the environment together. People with and without disabilities come together, just like refugees and people who were born locally. The dedicated volunteer teams and volunteers are united by one big goal: to preserve the unique diversity of our nature for future generations. How good that feels is vividly described by mountain forest project activist Heike Niemeyer in an interview: “It’s an insanely nice feeling … when trees suddenly stand where there was nothing before.”

Author: Gunnar

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