Forests in Germany

Our forests are all-rounders: they are sources of raw materials, climate change mitigators, wellness havens, habitats for countless animal and plant species and much more. Covering 32 percent of Germany, forests are a major feature of our country.

Forest management in Germany is sustainable and an example at international level. The Federal Government aims to maintain forests and ensure their sustainable exploitation while striking a balance between the manifold demands of our society and the interests of forest owners. The Scientific Advisory Board on Forest Policy provides the Federal Government with advice and assistance.

How are the forests doing? And how do we find out?

The Environmental Forest Monitoring system, which has been built up step by step since the 1980s, is an indispensable source of information for not only forestry and environmental policy but also operating decisions.

It show how our forests are doing and helps understand how forest ecosystems work. We can thus assess long-term developments and substantiate the strategies for sustainable forest management drawn up by the Federal Government and the Länder.

The following large-scale inventories all across Germany provide information on German forests:

  • National Forest Inventory: every ten years – the next time in 2022 – the National Forest Inventory gathers fundamental information on forest development, such as forested land, tree species, logging operations, growth, deadwood and browsing by game.
  • Forest Condition Survey, also called Crown Condition Assessment: every year in summer the crowns are assessed for damage.
  • Forest Soil Survey: the first Forest Soil Survey from 1987 to 1993 and the second one from 2006 to 2008 provided answers to issues such as nutrient reserve, soil acidification, carbon content and heavy-metal contamination.

Numerous international and national commitments require the provision of information on German forests. At national level, for instance, a decision by the German Bundestag of 2007 stipulates the provision of a forest report once in a legislative period (most recently in 2017). At international level, forest data are for example required for the UN-FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Focus on sustainability

Sustainability means handling our natural resources so that future generations are likewise still able to use them. With this insight and demand, Hans Carl von Carlowitz laid the foundation for sustainable forestry management in 1713. Today – more than 300 years later – this principle has been extended by social and ecological premises and firmly enshrined in the Federal Forest Act, the Länder forest legislation and the 2020 Forest Strategy. A sustainable forestry management is the key to ensure that our forests can continue to fulfil their manifold functions. Therefore, protecting and sustainably managing German forests is an integral part of the Federal Government’s Sustainability Strategy.

Look into a deciduous forest
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Overview of topics

Forests and forest management contribute to the Federal Government’s sustainability goals

Forest management contributes to achieving the Federal Government’s sustainability goals. Like no other area, forest management is geared towards the requirements of future generations. The total forest area and the stocks of biomass and timber have been increasing for years despite being used.

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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.

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Forest Climate Fund

The purview of the Forest Climate Fund is to expand the potential impact of forests and timber use on climate change mitigation and to support the adaptation of our forests to climate change. This Fund is part of the programme associated with the Energy and Climate Fund. Since 2013, it has been operated under the joint responsibility of the Federal Ministries of Agriculture (BMEL) and the Environment (BMU) on the basis of a decision by the German Bundestag.

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Environmental forest monitoring

Politics, industry, administrative bodies and the public need reliable and up-to-date data on forests. This need for information is met by the National Forest Inventory and the surveys on environmental forest monitoring. 

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