Exclusive interview with a wolf

Ah, I see you brought your friends!

He man, what’s up? Actually, they are not only my friends, it is my family! People call us a wolf pack, and we are usually with about five to eight wolves together. In my wolf pack, my parents are the boss, so annoying. They decide where we go and what we do. I’m helping them take care of my younger brothers and sisters. I really hope to be the boss of my own wolf pack sometime, I can’t wait to I grow up.

You look a bit skinny though, do you parents take good care of you?

Sure! Have you ever seen a fat wolf? I prefer to be slim and strong, just like my dad. And I need to, because otherwise I will not be invited to join the hunt. I mean, most of the time we eat deer, but those guys are fast! Our family needs to work together to catch one. And in case I will be travelling, I normally walk more than 50 kilometres a day. There is just no time to get fat in my life.

How do you like Europe so far?

Well, my dad says it’s better than it used to be several years ago, but it could be better. It seems that almost everywhere we go, people do not want us. I’ve lost many cousins and uncles because people killed and poached them. Now that your so-called laws protect us, I have more than 20,000 friends across the continent. It’s okay for a start. I mean, there are 1,7 million roe deer in Europe. Talking about overpopulation…

But it is a great place for you, right?

Yes, I love Europe! We used to be in every country way back when. Actually, my family was the most widespread on earth once. But humans hunted us down and we came this close to disappear forever. There is enough space for me in Europe. I am quite flexible, as long as there is enough to eat. And there are so many ungulates in Europe that nature is actually suffering from it. So, we like to help nature a bit, take out the weak and sick animals and restore nature’s balance. We are just doing nature a favour!

Should we also worry about our livestock?

Well, I sure like a piece of lamb. But it has become more difficult for me to get my paws on one. These humans came up with all kinds of protection measures. You see more and more electric fences, and these nasty guard dogs. I rather think twice before trying to get past them. I would prefer another deer before getting my ass toasted with 5000 Volts and a grumpy barking welcome committee.

But what happens if you come near humans?

I am quite curious, humans are funny creatures. But I don’t like getting close to humans. It’s not worth the risk. If you just leave me alone, I will just walk away again. Just don’t feed me! People should also take their responsibility to stay away from me. As long as you leave me alone, I will not interfere with your life. 

People think that you will behave unnaturally when you are close to humans.

What is unnaturally? If I behave how I behave, isn’t that my nature? Let’s be realistic, you think we are vicious monsters, or that we dress up like Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother. Have you seen your own kind, dressing up during carnival? And how you cut down all those trees around my forest. Now that is unnatural behaviour!

What about your relatives, the stray dogs, are they causing problems?

Yes, I often underestimate how many dogs are released into nature by people. They have to eat too, you know. In these eastern European countries, you find stray dogs quite a lot. I’ve seen them taking down a bison in Romania actually. And people can’t really tell if we killed an animal or the stray dogs. But guess who gets blamed for it? Right, we do…

Okay, something else. It seems you like travelling, why is that?

Oh yes, I love travelling. My older brothers, clearly hitting puberty, took off from our family. They wanted to find another wolf girl somewhere and start their own family. At that point, just like when my parents found each other, they settle down. I wonder where I will find my life partner. I mean, looking for love can be difficult sometimes. No wonder that my uncle Slavco travelled all the way from Slovakia to Italy before this ‘Romeo’ found his Juliette.

So where will you travel when you grow up?

I don’t know yet. This whole EU-thing with open borders does not really apply to me. Every country has other rules and regulations, it is so confusing for me. If they just let me walk around and I can eat a deer once in a while, I don’t bother anybody. Wouldn’t you say that is a great solution?

Curious to read more? Click on the interview with the brown bear or wolverine!

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Sign the Open Letter to the German Ministry

Join more than 70 forest experts demanding a radical change in the German forest management system.

Open Letter to the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Federal Ministry of
Food and Agriculture
Minister Julia Klöckner
11055 Berlin

Dear Minister Klöckner,

The current situation of the forest in Germany is worrying. It is a forest crisis not only driven by climate change. The current crisis management of the forestry industry is backward-looking and harmful to the forest. The declaration announced at the meeting of ministers in Moritzburg can be described as a `Moritzburg declaration of bankruptcy´. We call on the state forestry industry to, instead of expensive rushed actions, finally carry out an expert analysis of its own work and to involve all stakeholders in this process. What is called for is a consistent departure from plantation forestry and a radical shift towards a management that treats the forest as an ecosystem and no longer as a wood factory.

On 1stAugust 2019, five forestry ministers of CDU and CSU-led states adopted a so-called “master plan” for the forest in Germany, which was affected by heat, bark beetles, fire and drought. As of 2020, the federal government is to make 800 million euros available as a reaction to climate change. This money is to be used to repair the damage caused, reforest the damaged areas and carry out `climate-adapted´ forest conversion – including the use of non-native tree species that have not yet been cultivated in the forest. Research should therefore focus on on tree species suitability and forest plant breeding in the future – keyword: `Climate-adapted forest of the future 2100´.

Remarkably, the damage caused primarily by the extreme drought of 2018 is attributed solely to climate change. Climate change is meeting a forest that is systemically ill due to the planting of non-native tree species, species poverty, monocultures, uniform structure, average low age, mechanical soil compaction, drainage etc. A healthy, resistant forest would look differently! The master plan emphasizes: sustainable, multifunctional and `active´ forest management remains indispensable – and thereby means that its unnatural state cannot be changed. Reference is made to the `carbon storage and substitution effects´ of wood products. The use of wood, e.g. in the construction industry, should be increased and thus the demand for wood should be further fueled – while knowing that the forest in Germany already cannot meet this demand. In fact, forest owners are suffering from poor timber prices due to an oversupply of trunk wood on the world market.

All these demands make clear: the current forestry strategy, which has been practiced for decades, should not change in principle. The concept is simple: cut down trees – plant trees. At best, the `design´ of the future artificial forests consisting of perfectly calculated tree species mixtures, that are believed to survive climate change without damages, can be changed. In all seriousness, the intention is to continue selling the public a so-called `future strategy´ to save the forest. This strategy seamlessly follows the model of a wood factory, that is met with general rejection and must be regarded as a failure in view of the coniferous plantations that are currently collapsing on a large scale. An essential part of the forests that have currently died is exactly the part that was reestablished in 1947 as coniferous monocultures on a much larger area than today. There is only one difference to the situation at the time: considerable amounts of money are to be made available from taxes for forest owners this time.

Climate change is progressing, and this, without a doubt, has massive impacts on all terrestrial ecosystems, including forests. To pretend that the last two years of drought alone caused the disaster is too cheap. On closer inspection, the disaster is also the result of decades of a forestry focused on conifers – in a country that was once naturally dominated by mixed deciduous forests. People do not like to admit that for more than 200 years they have relied on the wrong species of commercial tree (spruce) and have also created artificial, ecologically highly unstable and thus high-risk forest ecosystems. A whole branch of business has become dependent on coniferous wood. And now the German coniferous timber industry is on the verge of bankruptcy.

It would only have been honest and also a sign of political greatness if you and the forestry ministers in Moritzburg had declared: Yes, our forestry industry has made mistakes in the past, and yes, we are ready for a relentless analysis that takes into account not only purely silvicultural, but also forest-ecological aspects. Instead, you have confined yourselves to pre-stamped excuses that are already familiar to everyone and that lack any self-critical reflection.

Clear is: We finally need resting periods for the forest in Germany, which has been exploited for centuries. We need a new, ecologically oriented concept for future forest – not a hectic `forest conversion´, but simply forest development closer towards nature. This gives the forest as an ecosystem the necessary leeway to self-regulate and react to the emerging environmental changes. We need a systemic forest management that is no less profitable than the present one, but must be substantially more stable and resistant to foreseeable environmental changes. The aid for forest owners that all citizens are now required to pay through their taxes is only politically justified in the interest of common good, if the forests of the future that are being promoted by it, do not end up in the next disaster, some of which is produced by the forest management itself.

That is why the signatories request from the the Federal Government, and in particular you, Mrs Klöckner, a master plan worthy of the name:

On disaster areas (mainly in public forests!) reestablishment through natural forest development (ecological succession), among other things with pioneer tree species, is to be brought about. In private forests, ecological succession for reestablishment must be purposefully promoted. Larger bare areas should be planted with a maximum of 400 to 600 large plants of native species per hectare in order to permit ecological succession parallelly.
To promote ecological succession, the areas should no longer be completely and mechanically cleared; as much wood as possible should be left in the stand (to promote optimum soil and germ bed formation, soil moisture storage and natural protection against browsing). In private forests, the abandonment of use in disaster areas should be specifically promoted for ecological reasons and in order to relieve the burden on the timber market.

Regarding the promotion of reestablishment plantings in private forests: priority for native tree species (of regional origin); choose wide planting distances in order to leave enough space for the development of pioneer species. For the forests of the future: Minimize thinning (low-input principle), build up stocks through targeted development towards old thick trees, protect the inner forest climate / promote self-cooling function (should have highest priority due to rapidly progressing climate change!), prohibit heavy machinery, refrain from further road construction and expansion, permit and promote natural self-regulatory development processes in the cultivated forest and on (larger) separate areas in the sense of an compound system; drastically reduce the density of ungulate game (reform of hunting laws).

Like in the field of organic agriculture, which has been established since the 1980s, the crisis of our forests should be the reason today to transform at least two existing forestry-related universities. They should be turned into universities for interdisciplinary forest ecosystem management. This is a contribution not only to the further development of forestry science and silviculture in Germany, but also of global importance! The goal must be to produce wood through largely natural forest production and to start with it here in Germany, the birthplace of forestry.

Motto: SYSTEMIC FOREST ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT INSTEAD OF WOOD FACTORY

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