On 9-15 October 2016, eight forestry experts from the Republic of Belarus, including the first deputy Minister of Forestry, Alexander Kulik, and chief forestry officers of the state production forestry associations of Belarus visited Germany for a study tour. The educational workshop ‘Opportunities for sustainable silvicultural practice development in intensively managed forests: experience of Germany’ was organized within the framework of ENPI FLEG II project.
The purpose of the study tour was getting familiar with the forest management in Germany, taking Saxony as a case study, for further integration of the positive experience into the forestry practice in the Republic of Belarus.
The workshop started with the general information about the area of the German forests that cover 32% of the land (11.4 million ha). Almost half of the forests are private, and the remaining ones are state and municipal. At the federal level a series of framework documents was developed for forestry, and most of the forest management functions were transferred to local authorities (states). Aim of the primary forestry is to ensure comprehensive approach, which means using each part of the forest. Great attention is paid to the issues of forest inventory and, on its basis, to long-term planning (for 100 years) of forestry operations in Germany.
In Germany, the reforms are under way to transform the composition of the forest fund; they tend to replace the spruce with deciduous species. The first deputy Minister of Forestry, Alexander Kulik, shares his impressions from the trip: ‘There are some common issues, such as forest diseases, certification and many others. And I want to note here that half of the forests are private, but any citizen has the right to visit them.’
Interaction with local communities is one of the most complicated forest management issues. In Germany, the forest is the people's heritage, and the local communities are monitoring what is happening in forest areas. According to the foresters, the local population is informed about each forest management event at least three times: before beginning, in the process and upon completion of work. The public is mainly informed through articles in local newspapers or through special tours to the forest.
‘The group of Belarusian experts showed great interest’, says Sabine Schreiner, Forest Experts Programm coordinator, – ‘I know that one of the reasons for the Belarus delegation to come here was to study the German experience in forest certification. I hope we have managed to convey the main idea: certification, naturally, plays a significant role. However, it does not give us more forests or better forests. In this regard, it is now important to adapt to climate changes, and to enable the possibility to use wood as a sustainable product from the forest.’
At the workshop special attention was paid to fire fighting. The participants visited the administration of Nordsachsen district. Head of the Department of forestry of the district administration said that forest fires are video surveyed 8-10 hours a day in the fire season. Upon detection of a fire, a fire fighting team goes to the place. However, there are no professional firefighters there, as teams are formed from volunteers who have undergone special training.
During five days, the participants were able to see the full range of forestry activities, from logging and reforestation to the construction of infrastructure and protection of forests from fires and pests. At the end of the trip the Memorandum on further cooperation between the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Belarus and Forest Experts Programme was signed.
‘The German colleagues willingly shared their experience with our group’, comments Elena Popova, coordinator of Forest Program of WWF Russia – ‘I hope that the experience in Germany will help the Belarusian experts improve the system of forest management in the country and to achieve positive practical results.’