Forest Strategy 2020

Forests cover approximately 11.4 million hectares in Germany, which equates to one third of Germany's national territory. They are valuable ecosystems, carbon sinks and recreation areas and also important suppliers of raw materials. Forest management in Germany is based on a tried-and-tested, integrative concept that aims to ensure a sustainable, multi-functional forestry sector.

Our forests are part of nature and at the same time part of the national economy, with 1.1 million people employed in forestry and wood-based industry. Timber's positive properties and favourable life-cycle assessment mean that there is a growing demand for it as a renewable raw material, building material and energy source. What is more, increased use of timber for material and energy purposes supports the Federal Government's climate stewardship targets and its decisions regarding the transformation of Germany's energy system. For many years, the amount of timber growing in Germany's forests has been greater than the amount used. The third National Forest Inventory has shown that there is further potential for sustainable use in German forests, as the amount of timber felled has, over the last ten years, been consistently lower than the amount of new timber that has grown.

Despite this welcome development, German forests face significant challenges: the growing demands on forests in the areas of climate stewardship, nature conservation, environmental protection, leisure and hunting currently result in conflicting goals in some places. These conflicts of interests could worsen in the future, although they will vary from region to region. And, increasingly, climate change requires new approaches to be adopted by forest owners and the forestry sector.

The 2020 Forest Strategy - a strategy for forests both as natural areas and as economic areas - addresses these complex interrelations and different demands. It identifies nine action areas, and for each of these it outlines the existing challenges and opportunities, analyses possible conflicts of interest and formulates potential solutions. The nine action areas comprise: 

  1. Mitigating and adapting to climate change
  2. Property, work and income
  3. Raw materials, use and efficiency
  4. Biodiversity and forest conservation
  5. Silviculture
  6. Hunting
  7. Soil protection and water management
  8. Recreation, health and tourism
  9. Education, public relations and research

The objective is to show ways of achieving a viable balance between the growing demands on forests and their sustainable productivity.

There is a need for further research and information in some areas. Answers are needed to questions relating to the adaptation of forests to climate change, the interrelations between and impacts of forest management and nature conservation, the efficient use of raw materials and to the maintenance and development of the value-added potential for forestry and wood-based industries. Practical research, transfer of innovation and information, education and consumer guidance therefore constitute important measures in nearly all the Forest Strategy's action areas.

The Federal Government's Forest Strategy is directed towards all relevant stakeholders at Federal Government and Länder levels. Its implementation will also help to promote the necessary awareness among the population about the various functions of domestic forests and about the advantages and opportunities of sustainable forestry for the climate, nature, the environment, the economy and society.

The Coalition Treaty for the 19th legislative period plans to continue the 2020 Forest Strategy as a central guideline, complemented by consideration of biodiversity. The Forest Strategy is being further developed with this in mind, with the Laender and interested parties being integrated into this development.

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