top of page

German Forests - Treasures of a Nation

By Dr. Adalbert Ebner

This page is build up through information from the book: German Forests - Treasures of a Nation, written by Dr.Adalbert Ebner in 1940. It was published by the German Library of Information in New York. I recently bought the book and it contains a lot of information about the how and why of German Forestry. On this page i will sum up the highlights of the book. The copy i bought is signed by the author.

© Copyright

Ownership of forests in Germany

National forests                 0.3%

State forests                      32.4%

Community forests           15.5%

Institutional forests           1.6%

Association forests            2.4%

Entailed private forests    12.9%

Free private forests           34.9%

Percentage of forest and wood varieties in Germany

Forests in Germany

Total forested area of the Reich 27%.


Oak                                       5.2%

Beech                                   13.2%

Birch                                     2.4%

Hardwood coppice              8.0%

Pine                                      43.6%

Spruce and Fir                    27%

Others                                  0.6%

Types of forests

High forest                          92%

Coppice with standard      4.0%

Coppice                               4.0%

Forests and Forestry

What forests means

Tree-growth and the abundant life of forests cover immense stretches of land and centuries of time. Forests as we know them today, are the results of a succession of natural developments. Nature, always a mistress of many moods, reveals particular complications in the forest. For it is more than merely a mass of trees. It teems with life of every kind, beginning with the mysterious soil bacteria, too minute to be recognized by the human eye.

There are the angleworms, unimportant as individuals, yet trough the multiplicity of their efforts moulding the structure of the soil; the beetles, the caterpillars and the butterflies, loved by the layman for their beautiful colors and strange shapes, but dreaded by the forester as a destructive power when their numbers assume the proporties of a pest; the big and small enemies of insect life, which in a natural way contribute an important share toward the expense of controlling pests by artificial means; the ground-covering mosses, herbs, small shrubs and inferior trees, so modest in their importance to the observer, yet providing food for game and birds, shading the soil, hatching seedlings and storing moisture; the soil itself, simply defined as an accumulation of weathered rock and decayed matter, yet varying according to the underlying geological formations and reflecting the prosperity of all the plants it bears in its physical and chemical properties; the wide variety of tree species, some of them rearing their heads as the aristocrats of the forest, others more humble, striking their sturdy roots deep into the soil, pumping up strength from its lower layers ans protecting their taller fellows from the blasts of the storm.

Into this elemental group comes man; and the relationship which is thus established we sum up in the term "forest economy".

In the endless struggle to coordinate the well being of man and forest we sense the living expression of all our mistakes and their correction, of all progress and retrogression, of all hopes and beliefs. One thought, i think, will be found to be woven into this description of German forests like a bright thread; it is the idea that at a certain point forestry ceases to be a mere skillfully applied technique of logging or milling, and becomes an art in the widest sense of the world.

It is a master craft rooted deep in ethical beliefs; it combines the thought of the scientist with the work of the craftsman. Technical skill is essential, but the underlying ethics raise it to the level of an art. This is why forestry reflects the soul of the German people, following their needs in all phases of its life.

The state forests are dotted with cabins build by the government as a shelter for foresters and workman.


While it is true that forestry, as an economic undertaking, has no room for sentimentality, the true forester approaches his work with a keen sense of moral and ethical values which, in their significance, far outweigh the superficial sentimentality he lacks. When the time comes for cutting a tree whose growth to maturity he has watched and tended for years, his decision to harvest it is unclouded by sentimental considerations of its beauty, for he knows that in taking it down, he makes room for the seedling he has just planted and is helping to preserve his forest as a whole.

What is the real meaning of "forestry"?

Some people, when they speak of forestry, think only in terms of reforestation; they believe that the forester's main job is the planting of trees. Others, when they hear of the forester, immediately think of the fire warden, who fights the red devil with hose and water. Still others confuse it entirely with the lumber industry or see in it an attempt to impose administrative control upon the business undertakings of the lumberman. In answer to these various misconceptions, it must be admitted that forestry may imply something different in one place or at one time then it does elsewhere or at another time, just as the forests themselves differ in area and time according to their distribution.

The most primitive form of forestry is the clearing of regions of forest land to satisfy the needs of the settler. The clearance of land for agriculture and the harvesting of a naturally-grown crop to provide rough timber for houses and tools, wood for fuel and other purposes, marks the first stage in the meeting of man and forest for economic purposes. The second step is what we might describe in general as the purely utilitarian stage. It is characterized by a completely arbitrary and thoughtless exploitation of the forest's various products. The third, like the two preceding stages also consists of predominantly commercial utilization, and represents a proces of depletion similar to that of mining, in which little or no attention is paid to the future yields. Here management is principally based on considerations of private profit, since the work is carried on by an industry whose main interest is making wood available for manufacturing purposes.

In considering any of these phases of development one must of course bear in mind the various local conditions among which they occur. Where there are huge tracts of virgin timber old enough to be close to decay, and where general economic conditions impose a limit upon the desirability of intensive management, forestry's task must be considered in relation to this background rather than by comparison with conditions prevailing in some other part of the world. In every country, forestry will pass through these various stages before,  sooner or later, it reaches the point at which exploitation becomes uneconomic.

With the arrival of sustained management, a new form of utilization makes its appearance. It involves a revolution in the old attitude towards the forest. Exploitation is no longer the sole motivating force. Besides introducing considerations of a general economic, social and ethical nature, management assures the permanency of a crop and lays down plans for maintaining the productive powers of the forest in the future.

The final and most satisfactory stage of development is that of sustained management on an absolutely biological basis. Here the biological point of view, namely the management of the forest according to the highly complicated laws of biological unity to which it is subject, becomes the central point in the management program. There exists a community of interests between the German people and their forests. The forestry program is based upon reciprocal interests and inclinations of the nation and the individual.

By "forest", we generally understand a large area stocked with various species of trees growing wild. Its distinctive characteristic is that it takes the form of a sociological community which contains within itself sufficient productive power to assure self-perpetuation. The virgin or natural forest is a product of the free interplay of natural forces, such as soil, climate and the competition  of flora and fauna, without human interference. Its opposite is the cultivated forest, the product of management, where human effort or interference has resulted in a timber crop. Although virgin forests still have many uses, they no longer suffice to fulfill all the needs of present-day demand, as the time required for commercial timber growth, though steady and organic, is too slow. The haphazard manner in which it is stocked results in the leaving of too much open space, and therefore quantity production is insufficient. A large part of this timber is frequently of excellent structural quality, yet due to the uneven processes of growth in a virgin stand, the percentage of quality timber will be uneconomic.

This criticism does not pretend to disparage the aesthetic appeal of virgin timber or its value for research and recreation, nor does it underestimate the economic result of harvesting old, natural growth. Nevertheless, under the pressure of modern commercial trends we are compelled to think of a timber crop in the same terms as we do of an agricultural crop, where science and planning combine with nature to produce a maximum result.

The cultivated forest of today has many different purposes. First among these, of course, is its crop yield. In addition, it occupies an important place in the scheme of conservation an recreation.

Whenever a forester speaks of a "crop yield" he thinks in terms of both the main product, timber and bark, and of the various kinds of by-products, such as seed, fruits, berries, mushrooms, resin, leaves, grass, stone, sand, and even peat. For the different purposes to be served, different types of cultivation are employed. Thus the "high forest" is originated from seed to produce the taller varieties of trees; the "low forest" is a crop of sprouts which are harvested in short rotations; the "coppice type with standards" is a loose shelter of older trees grown from seed and an understory of quickly rotating coppice.

Forestry therefore is an art - an art involving management - an art of welding countless factors toward a single, many-sided purpose.

The definition given by the Reichsforstmeister serves to illustrate this concept:

"The German forest belongs to the German people. it is the task of those who hold it on fief from the people, or who manage or tend it, to protect and cherish the forest as a basis of German culture; to foster its beauty as a source of enjoyment and strength for the German people; to preserve and expand it as a means of national defense; to find work within it for German fellow citizens, and to provide the German market with its products in maximum quantity and quality, at the same time constantly bearing in mind the needs of the future." - Hermann Göring

Sustained yield

Forestry, while it is an economic enterprise, nevertheless has certain phases which distinguish it clearly from kindred undertakings. While it requires a great capital investment, its growing stock , its labor requirements, though limited in number, are of necessity exacting. It is an enterprise which is bound to the soil and spreads its activities over unusually large areas. Moreover, its operations must be conducted over long periods of time - one needs only to consider that the average rotation of a single crop is approximately one hundred years. Just as forestry as such a must take into account its many peculiar characteristics, so its economic aspects as an industry are bound by special features. The natural laws governing growth in a given area must be taken into account. Due consideration must be given to the needs of the distant future. Economic calculations drawn up for any large-scale program must, of course, be modified to suit local requirements. Every forestry project must fit into the forestry plan of the whole country and conform to its general economic needs.

"Sustained yield" forestry, though simple of explanation, is a fascinating topic when compared with other economic enterprises. Capital, in a forest, is represented by the growing trees or "stock"; interest, by the annual increase in the volume of this stock known as the "wood increment". When an expert speaks of "sustained yield", he refers to a permanent production process, whereby the forest stock is maintained and only the interest on the invested capital, namely, the increment, actually harvested. The forest area making up a single management unit contains growing trees of different ages. All of these have an annual increment, the total volume of which will depend on their number, the variety of their species and ages, and on the production capacity of soil and climate. Thus, if we assume that the increment will amount to 300 board feet per acre per year, the estimated cutting budget will equal this figure times the number of acres under cultivation. "Sustained yield" also implies still other variations and refinements - for example, the regulation of the crop so that it remains approximately equal year after year. Since mere volume production of wood is in itself an extremely crude concept, the forester must aim not only at maintaining the quantity but also at increasing the quality of the crop from year to year. In addition, he must see that the proper assortment of grades is provided, both for present and future use. He is confronted with purely monetary problems, such as the assurance of equal financial returns, of balancing income with expenses and of planning in such a way that the proper proportion of both items will be maintained for the future. Last but not least, sustained forestry should seek, by wise management, gradually to increase production in quality, quantity and net income to conform with the growing needs of national economy.

At its best, old-fashioned "pure stand" planting produces heavy yielding spruce forests.

A mature, 140 year-old pine stand, in which wood volume and quality are high.


Glimpse of a "pine-spruce-fir" type forest with an admixture of various hardwoods.

The solid, octogenarian spruce trunks are interspersed with the green of young beeches.


The German Forester and His Duties

Forest management is an art, whose object, in simple terms, may be described as the continuous harvesting of forest crops; “utilization” satisfies the needs of the present, “silviculture” provides for those of the future.

“Silviculture” represents the supreme art and is the greatest pride of the forester. It means using the ax as the only tool. It means building up a forest on the basis of natural reproduction, to fulfill all the forest’s sociological needs, and to provide for the future economic needs of the owner in terms of species, quality and quantity of woods. It means, furthermore, safeguarding the beauty of the woods and assuring the necessary financial returns.

In the course of time many forms of silviculture have evolved. The first. was probably a selective cutting, where individual trees were taken out because of the value of their species and the quality of their timber. The spaces thus opened up filled in sporadically, and the value of the forest slowly declined. [In cases where the grazing of live-stock and the browsing of game furthered this depletion of 4 stand, the productive capacity of the forest was almost nullified. [t was during these happily by-gone days that the idea of planting stands of softwood alone gained ground in Germany. General economic influences encouraged the growing of coniferous woods, the variety which seemed to provide the best return in the shortest possible time. From Germany this idea spread throughout the world. Mixed stands of scattered trees were cleared and the areas replanted with single species in straight



The result was twofold. While the crops produced, ranging from 28,000-3 5,000 cubic feet per acre per 100 years, proved a tremendous success, the lack of knowledge of the “biological welfare” of the forest resulted in various disasters. Insect pests found a truly wonderful playground in the pure, even-aged spruce and pine forests; soil quality declined, storms threatened the weak, shallow-rooting forests, production became poor and regeneration expensive. The “Mining Motive” of exhaustive exploitation had found its other extreme in the “Timber Factory” system.


Although these obviously unsound methods caused great concern to thinking men in various places, it was mainly Professor Gayer of the University of Munich who laid down the new theory for developing silviculture along sound, natural lines. His theory, which gained world-wide application, was based upon the establishment of small groups of trees in mixed stands of different age. Its nucleus was the idea that the regeneration of a stand should be achieved by natural reproduction rather than by artificial methods.


Gayer’s theory rejected the “timber factory” procedure of planting in straight rows. He originated what is today known as the ““Dauerwald”’, a natural forest in which it is predominantly nature’s reproductive powers which regenerate the stand and maintain the productivity of the forest at a maximum. Since then, the technique of applying his principles, which have been vindicated by world-wide experience, has resulted in a variety of notable silvicultural methods. Because Nature cannot always be relied upon to produce a perfect crop by her own reseeding, skillful reforestation work still has its place filling out the gaps and holes she sometimes leaves. Besides supplementing nature’s work in re-establishing cut-over areas, reforestation has also been responsible for establishing entire new forests on what was previously bare land. The present German reforestation

program calls for an area of approximately 1,7 million acres to be reforested in the near future.


The cutting of timber as a part of silviculture on a sustained yield basis calls for skillful calculation, Therefore the forester must set up a plan under which growing conditions, production capacity, increment, and distribution of cuttings over different areas and periods of time must all be laid down. Thus forest mensuration and management are one of the most important parts of his work.


Harvesting the timber confronts the forester with many purely technical problems. Cutting it, either using the ax, saws or power machinery i one part, Skidding, whether by man-power, by gravity, by animals or by machine is another. Transportation too, calls for various methods which require considerable engineering skill. The laying out of roads, the building of flumes, chutes, cable ways and dams for drifting and rafting are only a few of the many problems he must solve. In perfecting the various technical operations, the American logger is unsurpassed.

Cut timber must be marketed. Thus the structural needs and regulations of market conditions as well as an adequate knowledge of the wood-consuming industries form a further part of the forester’s many-sided calling. He must deal with forest policies and consider the requirements for timber and wood, not only of his local region, but of the entire nation. Export and import conditions, tariffs, and substitute materials—all must be carefully taken into account.


Besides all this he is an employer. The supervision of officials and workers, their efficiency and their adjustment to their work must be carried out with tact and understanding. The administration of a property places a thousand and one responsibilities upon his shoulders. In some aspects of his work the forester almost needs to be a lawyer. Old timber and grazing rights often confront him with intricate legal questions which must be settled or cleared up. He also must deal with the manifold legal problems arising from the contracts he is called upon to conclude, whether they deal with

the sale of timber, construction work or the purchase of lease of land for various purposes.

Protection, conservation, and maintenance of the forests as a source of recreation for the public are major aspects of his work. The protection against torrents, landslides and avalanches, the fighting of fires and insect pests, the control of fungus and other diseases are important, not only for the welfare of the forest, but also, in a wider sense, for that of an entire country and its people. Conservation is in no way a sideline of forestry. Rather, “forestry” means “conservation” in the best sense of the word.


In Germany another task falls to the forester’s lot. Here forest and game management go hand in hand. Hunting is a part of the forester’s profession. But his duties go considerably farther than the popular concept of merely shooting game. He must tend it and care for it to establish the proper balance between the timber crop and the game crop. Like his timber, he manages his game too, on the basis of a sustained yield. The marketing of venison, the guidance of the hunting guest and the protection of wild life are all part of his important task.


In the woods, the State Forester represents the arm of the law whenever his duty calls upon him to enforce the regulations applying to the forest. The

domain of his office extends far beyond the limits of the state forests; the Forest Laws require him to draw up and supervise management plans for the community, institutional and association forests within his territory. To these and to the private forests he is friend and adviser.


From the foregoing the reader will have gathered that the German forester is no mere technician, no mere administrator of publicly-owned land, not solely a professional consulting expert on applied botany and ecology. On the contrary, he is one of the mainstays of culture and education. He is a friend who shares in the hopes and sorrows of his community, who plays a leading part in the social and economic welfare of that corner of the earth to which he has been appointed.


Around this man, whose choice of his profession was rooted in his love of nature and his sympathy with the community idea which plays so big a part in the biological welfare of his forest, the little community groups itself to draw on his deeper knowledge and wider view. He is not called by legal power alone, but by the ethics of his profound belief in his profession which make him a central figure wherever

a man of good will is needed for the benefit of Man and Nature. Thus, the German forester far exceeds the bounds of his purely professional task; he is the preserver of plant and animal life, of culture and welfare, of happiness and hope. Is this not after all the fulfillment of the ideals underlying the ethical concept of any profession, that the spirit be always of as great importance as mere scientific knowledge and that success in terms of technical results be built up within the framework of an inner urge always striving towards the cultural and the artistic?


Eras have come and gone, wars have scarred the countries, the flames of political, economic and social theories have swept across the creations of human pride, reducing to ashes the old monuments to mankind’s efforts and bringing forth signs of newer times.


The German forester has preserved for his nation one of its greatest treasures and in so doing built the best possible monument to his own professional career. The esteem, in which the German forester is held by the people among whom he labors, is in itself the highest acknowledgment of the value they attribute to his work. Foresters the world over are surely bound together by common ideals.

May the peoples of the earth reap the benefits to be derived from the wisdom which comes from close comradeship between forests and peoples. May they draw closer to the oftentimes lonesome guardians of the nation’s treasure—their woodlands. This wish is like a seed planted by a forester starting a crop which he will never live to see full grown.


Composition and Size of Territory Administered by Local Offices of State Forest Authorities (in acres)


State                      State forest      Community under state       Community under community       Private forests

Saxony                     8920                                2861                                           447                                       15587

Westphalia              5337                                2824                                          9135                                      39981

Prussia                    8920                                2810                                          2281                                      14925

Bavaria                    6919                                2943                                            62                                          9328

Wuerttemberg        3286                                3378                                           255                                         3657

Upper Bavaria       12207                               1483                                              -                                          12701


The winter mountain-landscape is almost inconceivable without its alternating blankets of snow and dark trees.


Ownership of forests in Germany

A glance at a few rather dry statistics will give the reader an indication of the extent of private, community and state ownership of Germany’s forests. They clearly show that private and community forestry have a definite place in the broad scheme. The former alone covers about half of Germany’s entire forest area and therefore constitutes a prime factor in the nation’s economy. But figures speak a cold language.

They give us no hint of the multiple patterns formed within this structure. They show us nothing of how these forests meet so many of the necessities of life. They completely disregard many values which it is impossible to express in terms of statistics.

Each of the three types of ownership mentioned above has its place and its special role in the broad forestry scheme, and each contributes its special share towards filling the needs of its owner, the people, and the country as a whole.

State Owned Forests


As to the state owned forest, it is best suited to long rotation crops; its management therefore is not comparable to the other two types in every respect. For example, in the production of three hundred-year old veneer oak stands it has definite obvious advantages. In view of the comparatively large areas involved in state forests, they can be managed more efficaciously. Their administration is unified and highly organized and with an eye to public interest is able to effect improvements not dictated solely by the promise of financial gain. Private and communal forestry work, however, is much more individual in character.


Private Forests


The total private forest area, covering approximately 16 million acres, is distributed among some 830,000 proprietors. Of this area, about half belongs to owners whose holdings exceed 250 acres. The remainder is distributed among 823,000 proprietors, of whom 784,000 own lots containing less than 50 acres. One quarter of Germany’s entire forest area, therefore, is in the hands of small proprietors.

While the State forests produce an average of about 322 board feet of commercial timber per acre yearly, the large privately owned forests attain averages of approximately 293 board feet, and the small plots from 143 to 155 board feet. It is generally recognized that the small private forests will yield a lower return of wood than do the larger properties, even when climatic and soil conditions are equal.

There are, however, certain definite reasons for this, which vary with the particular district in question, As a general rule, it is easier to manage large properties profitably than small ones. The small forest owner also frequently lacks the necessary scientific knowledge. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the function of the small wood-lots differs essentially from that of the large tracts and particularly from that of the State forests. The small farmers’ wood-lots provide less wood for commercial and industrial purposes, but on the other hand supply timber and fuel for agricultural needs and, where required, grass litter and other forest by-products. The small forest is in a sense its owner’s savings bank. When times are hard, trees are felled in order to pay off debts. When the farmer’s children leave home to start a new life of their own, the forest may con-

tribute its share towards establishing the young household. When the farmer wants to rebuild his stable or barn, when he plans a fence or stocks the winter’s fuel, the wood-lot is a valuable reserve from which he can draw.

To some extent, the lower yield of the small forest can probably be traced to the innate conservatism of the peasant proprietor, for he is inclined to be suspicious of innovations. On the other hand, his conservative nature is often a valuable asset and possesses many happy constructive and creative features. For example, it has contributed much toward the spread of conservation. It would be a pity if all things were measured in terms of material results only.


One of the drawbacks of highly individual forest management lay in the fact that the small holder was frequently governed by private motives having little in common with the broader objectives of national forest economy. Yet it stands to reason that the condition of private forests, both large and small, cannot remain a matter of indifference to the state. Since wood is one of the most important modern natural resources, the public at large has a vital interest in the welfare of private as well as State forests. Much more can be done to make the forest an even more important factor for conserving property and increasing the profitable of agriculture than is being done today.


Formerly, it was not generally recognized that forestry’s part in the life of the nation warranted its own representation in the government, and private forestry had to be satisfied with being a branch of agriculture. With the formation of the Reichsforstamt, a strong central authority was created which took its place be side other public organizations and gave forestry as such, and particularly private forestry, belated recognition of its importance. The Reichsforstamt includes all the country’s forests, whether they belong to the State, to communities or to private owners, all those employed in the forests, and finally, the entire wood-consuming industry. This administrative center outlines general forest policy and enacts forest legislation. The latter is indispensable if forestry is to achieve its maximum prosperity, at the same time preserving and conserving the woods along sound lines as a national resource. To some extent, these legislative measures already were embodied in the old State Forest Laws, to some extent they were amplified or initiated by new nation-wide regulations. Legislation restricts itself mainly to preventing devastation and destructive thinning, to assuring reforestation and safeguarding the forest’s protective qualities.

The law also intervenes to protect the small holdings of the hereditary farmer (Erbhofbauer) from being split up into uneconomic units. Experience long ago demonstrated that legislation alone was insufficient to exhaust every possibility of helping private forestry towards its ultimate goal.

For this reason an advisory authority, the Reichsnährstand was created side by side with the Reichsforstamt. This authority, which is an independent, non-governmental institution, comprises all owners of both forest and agricultural land. It is a cooperative enterprise, designed to make available to the individual the education, advice and active assistance which are indispensable aids to the successful operation of land.

In addition to the central office, the forestry division of the Reichsnährstand has numerous local branch and forest ranger offices. These provide field-advice on such things as marketing conditions and advance the general education of the small private owner. While certain restrictions have been placed upon private owners, in the general interest of preserving the country’s forest wealth, they are for the greater part free to manage their property as they please. Enterprise and initiative based on private ownership and the pride in individual accomplishment have made invaluable contributions to modern forestry both in theory and in practice. Some of its outstanding names are known not only in the nation but throughout the world.

German private forestry, building on the basis of new knowledge and increasing capacity, carefully guided and tended, inspired by the love of the forest and nature, of people and country, may well look forward to its future yields with hope and confidence.

Successful management of this community forest achieved a yield of 54,000 board feet per acre.


A richly ornamented peasant home, build in 1621. The pride of the peasantry in their houses extends to their fields and forests.


For six hundred years, a single family has lived entirely off this forest, bringing in to a high state of mixed growth development.


The Bavarian peasant's house with its flowers and carved balconies reflects his innate love of beauty and his affinity to the soil.


Community Forests


Where the road to Nuremberg, the old town of the Mastersingers, winds through a gap in the gentle slopes of Jura mountains, the ancient little city of

Weissenburg extends a friendly greeting of the traveler. Only two years ago, its citizens celebrated the one thousandth anniversary of their little town’s existence. The high point in the festival celebration was a pageant outlining the history of Weissenburg’s famous city forest. An old document, complete with signature and seal, gave the forest to the city in the long-ago days of the Carolingians. After this it became a much loved haunt in which to hunt the deer and the wild boar. Precious honey came from the bees it harbored. And not the least of its contributions to the welfare and trade of the townsfolk was its timber. Revenue from wood balanced the tax budget, and to prove its importance, the main street was called the “Wood Market”. An administrationship for the forest, created by the town, was handed down through one family for many generations. Money from the timber trade built the school houses; the forest’s good water was a boon to the inhabitants and—made into beer by them—gained thousands of admirers far from the little town.


Slowly its population grew into the thousands, and the need for greenery and parks became urgent. When mineral springs were discovered, Weissenburg drew new prosperity from the people who came there in search of health and relaxation. Here, too, the forest played its part. Though the tax budget of the grown up town had long since become too great to be borne by the proceeds from logs and cord-wood, the forest, now a park and playground attracting visitors from near and far, constituted an essential factor in the city’s growing popularity as a watering place. Little inns were built to offer rest and refreshment to strollers in the shade of its cover and when it became the site of an open air theater, the lyric beauty of its musical festivals drew additional thousands of visitors to Weissenburg every year. Hand carved wooden posts guide your steps through the forest; easy trails wind through the lovely woods created by years of careful management; old folks and children spend their vacation hours in “their forest”. To the stranger, Weissenburgers Jove to tell of the history, the secrets, and the ways of their famous community forest.

This is but one story of what community forestry can mean. Its place is truly important, and with time and the adaptation of the property to new needs, it will grow still greater.


In early times, the community forests supplied the citizens of their communities with wood for fuel and building. The cutting rights were legal servitude's. Because of the financial benefits accruing from them when properly managed, the community forests were and still are, highly important. In Switzerland, for example, many communities have proved this in a manner which has gained the admiration of the professional and layman world alike. There are instances in which 1000 board feet of wood have been cut per acre and where the annual net income from an acre has run as high as 132 francs. Although with the increase in present-day populations, the monetary value of the forest compared with the total expense of a community's

administration may sometimes seem small, other aspects of its usefulness have gained new importance. For example, in 1900, the net income from community Forest products in the city of Freudenstadt exceeded the city’s expenses by more than 20% ; in 1910 it reached but 34% and 1935 it fell to 6% of the total budget. Meanwhile, however, Freudenstadt had developed into a world-famous watering place and the forest’s recreational value as a form of indirect financial return became of great importance. Today, Freudenstadt’s reputation as a spa is inseparable from the city forest.

The influence of the forest upon health conditions is not generally realized. Yet statistics show us that the incidence of certain diseases in large cities is in almostbdirect ratio to their area of greenery. For example, in London where 14% of the city’s area Is covered by woods, the annual mortality from tuberculosis is only 1.9%; in Berlin where only 10% of the city is wooded, the mortality figure rises to 2.2. Paris, which has the lowest green area of all three, 4.5%, has the highest tuberculosis mortality, 4.1%.


The Role of Forests as Greenery in German Cities.


Total area of German cities                                                              1,874,690 acres

Covered by houses, streets, squares, railroads and so on                   24.63%


Parks, gardens, sports fields                                                                     3.12%

Forests (used only as greenery)                                                                14.9%

Cemeteries (often woods)                                                                        13.02%


Agricultural area                                                                                       36.41%

Miscellaneous                                                                                              8.23%


The collapse of economic prosperity caused what we call “unemployment”, a condition simple enough to define but dramatic when we consider its causes. It is interesting to note that England, with little more than 4% of its land in forests, called upon the communities to do their share in the rebuilding of trees and forests, if only to create more beauty. For while the growing stock might help to foster the home wood-industry and to provide work, it would principally be a haven where the human mind can find refuge. Here it could escape from desperation and unhappiness at the source of a deeper and more primal strength which would do more to renew its confidence in the wisdom in life’s destiny than the dole or gifts from the public purse.

Community forests trace a beautiful design through the pattern of a nation’s gardens. Their planting and tending are worthwhile, not only for each community, but for the welfare of the entire nation. Monetary returns are not the only dividend they pay; they are vitally intertwined with the needs of present-day mankind in many other ways.


"To the forest theater"

Hand carved signposts mark the trail in the community forest.


Puck and his fairies play their tricks amid the greenery of Weissenburg's Open-Air Forest Theater


New roads open up old forests.

The little Suabian village of Denklingen, seen through the towering spruces of its community forest.


German forester....

... and his station, denoted by the deer's head over the door.


This was the most important information (regarding my website) in the book. The book has 125 pages with other subjects like: "The forest and their values" and "What forestry needs".

bottom of page