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Ancient Beech Forest

Buchenwald in der Hohen Schrecke Foto: Thomas Stephan

Many forests are still being destroyed on a grand scale. Not many people are aware that one of the most endangered types of ancient forest is not in the southern hemisphere, but directly on our doorstep. They are ancient beech forests which hardly exist any more.

Germany is the heartland of the red beech

Germany is the heartland of the red beech, and if nature had its way 66 percent of the Federal Republic of Germany would be covered with beech forests. There are no more ancient beech forests in Germany. And the existing older beech forests only give a slight impression of what our former ancient forests were like and cover less than one thousandth of their original area.

Only 0.3 percent of forests are in a natural state

Today around a third of Germany is still forested. However, only 0.3 percent of these forests are in a natural state. In the entire world, Central Europe is the only place where red beech forests exist. Beech trees can live from 300 to 400 years and grow to enormous dimensions. Their life cycle is more than double that of cultivated forests, which are reforested with a so called „rotation period“ of 140 years.

Requirements for virgin forests

Over the years, fungal infections, branch forking, rot and crown breakage in natural beech forests produce a lot of deadwood. This deadwood, together with fallen trees amounts to around a third of the wood substance of the living forest. The number of beetles, spiders and mushrooms are enormous. Around a fifth of the beetles existing in Germany are dependent on deadwood, and therefor can thrive far better in the large amounts of wood substance in a virgin forest. In order for a virgin forest to occur, unlike a cultivated forest no further wood should be removed. The same rule applies to broken tree trunks and crown material laying on the forest floor, which is often removed during forest sanitation or sold as firewood. Join us and help us to buy more land for nature!

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