FW-R-2: Financial support for forest conversion

The picture shows a young man kneeling in a clearing, holding a conifer seedling in his hands and looking at it. In the background, a man planting a tree with a spade can be seen in a blur. Click to enlarge
In order to make non-native forests adaptable, tree species are introduced in a targeted manner.
Source: Photograph: © highwaystarz / stock.adobe.com

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Table of Contents


FW-R-2: Financial support for forest conversion

The restructuring of forests owned by the Federal government as well as corporate and private forests is promoted by means of funding from EU, Federal and Länder sources, as well as from individual budget sources. The average area of forest conversion which took place in recent years up to 2017 amounts to approximately 22,000 hectares annually. These restructuring operations attracted an average amount of approximately 82 million Euros per annum.

The stacked column chart shows the investments in forest conversion in millions of euros from 2000 to 2017. A differentiation is made between investments by the Federal Forestry Agency in the federal forest, expenditures by the Länder for measures in the Land forest, as well as the share of EU funds, the share of federal funds and the share of Land funds and additional public funds in GAK/EU funding. The pure Land funding is also assigned to the latter category.
FW-R-2: Financial support for forest conversion

The stacked column chart shows the investments in forest conversion in millions of euros from 2000 to 2017. A differentiation is made between investments by the Federal Forestry Agency in the federal forest, expenditures by the Länder for measures in the Land forest, as well as the share of EU funds, the share of federal funds and the share of Land funds and additional public funds in GAK/EU funding. Pure Land funding is also assigned to the latter category. The expenditure of the Länder for measures in the state forest is by far the strongest category. There is no trend here. There is a significant downward trend in investments by the Federal Forestry Agency and in federal funding in the GAK. The EU funds in the GAK show a quadratically decreasing trend. The state funds in the GAK show no trend.
In addition, the converted forest area or the forest area under conversion in hectares is shown with a line. This time series shows a significantly decreasing trend. In 2017, just under 20,000 hectares were converted.

Source: BMEL (federal IASCP reporting); reports from the federal states ministries responsible for forestry; BImA (cost and performance accounting Bundesforst)

Proactive restructuring of forests – giving nature a helping hand

Natural regeneration is usually a favourable and the most natural form of forest regeneration. This process involves focusing forestry operations on the removal of individual mature trees from a stand. This creates gaps of sufficient size to provide enough light for seedlings to grow which emanate from neighbouring trees. The traditional near-natural method of restructuring forests used to consist exclusively in letting natural regeneration take its course.

However, the adaptation of forests to changed climate conditions often requires a targeted restructuring of existing stands. Natural regeneration does not always lead to a change in tree species, especially when there are no suitable seed-bearing tree species nearby. The occasional exception are trees that emanate from natural wind dispersal of seeds, for example pine, birch or poplar trees, which can drift into a stand even from considerable distances, and also from being dropped or buried by jays and squirrels. Where the objective is to convert non-native conifer stands to mixed forests or to incorporate specific thermophilic species or trees with thermophilic provenance into stands, it is imperative to adopt methods of artificial regeneration. This involves incorporating the desired tree species into stands either by sowing or planting, and in cases where browsing by game is a problem, by taking appropriate protective measures to get them established. In this approach, it is also possible to carry out targeted supplementation of otherwise spontaneous natural regeneration.

Forest restructuring is an objective that has meanwhile been embedded in numerous forestry strategies and programmes nationwide and at Länder level. Appropriate funding is being provided at EU level and by Federal and Länder governments for forest restructuring, both in private and corporate forests as well as state-owned forests. Funding mechanisms vary considerably among the Federal Länder.

As far as private and corporate forests are concerned, the predominant proportion of funding activities are sourced from funding provided by the IASCP and EAFRD programmes. Individual Länder vary in how they combine their various funding allocations from the EU, Federal government and their own government. A few of the Länder provide additional support from their own budgets for forest restructuring measures as per guidelines on forest or woodland promotion or specific programmes. In this manner, between 25 and 41 million Euros were invested in restructuring private and corporate forests in the period from 2000 to 2017. As far as forests are concerned that are owned by individual Länder, forest restructuring is pursued almost exclusively as part of ‘normal’ forestry management which receives funding from budgetary sources. Proactive restructuring measures that are taken into account in calculating indicators usually serve the objective to establish native tree species and to increase the mix of tree species. This includes, apart from forest regeneration measures, actions to supplement natural regeneration in young stands as well as advance planting and underplanting. The purpose of advance planting is to achieve a growth advantage for the desired target species in a stand. This involves planting and sowing new target tree species among the main stand where growth is usually still hesitant and single-layered. The objective is to incorporate these new target tree species into the new main stand after the existing stand has been harvested. In the period from 2000 to 2017, the Länder have invested between 38 and 61 million Euros annually in forest restructuring.

The proportion of forests owned at Federal level amount to just 4 % of the overall forest area in Germany. Essentially, this is forest on (former) military exercise sites and along Federal waterways and motorways which come under the remit of BmIA (Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben/ Institute for Federal Real Estate), with its Department Bundesforst. The same express objective applies to forest owned by the Federal government, namely to convert non-native stand into stable mixed stands which are more natural. For the period examined, the mean value of Federal forestry investment into forest restructuring measures amounts to some 3.2 million Euros annually.

Compared to the nationwide proportion of Länder-owned forest amounting to 29 % of the overall forest area, the proportion of funding – allocated to the restructuring of Länder-owned forests as part of nationwide investment – is disproportionately high. Averaged out over recent years this amounts to almost 56 %. By comparison, the proportion of funding invested in the restructuring of private and corporate forests which cover approximately 67 % of the overall forest area, amounting to on average 39 %, is clearly lower31. One of the reasons for this is that, especially with regard to private forests, many forest owners carry out forest conversion measures for which they do not request funding and therefore, there is no information available in respect of their extent.

31 - BMEL (Hrsg.) 2014: Der Wald in Deutschland – Ausgewählte Ergebnisse der dritten Bundeswaldinventur. Berlin, 56 S.



FW-R-1: Mixed stands

FW-R-3: Conversion of endangered spruce stands



Forest owners should drive forward the conversion of forests with pure stands to mixed forests of site-appropriate trees which are low-risk. (DAS, ch. 3.2.7)

Cultivation of native and mostly autochthonous tree species with high resilience and growth performance (Waldstrategie 2020, p. 23)

Adaptation of forests to the challenges of climate change, e.g. by cultivating mixed forests of the greatest possible diversity (NBS, ch. B 1.2.1)

Continuous reduction of the proportion of non-native tree species (NBS, ch. B 1.2.1)

Conservation and evolution of natural and near-natural woodland communities (NBS, ch. B 1.2.1)