65% of Germans love Wilderness

Large majority of Germans in favour of Wilderness

65% of Germans love Wilderness, are for natural forests and floodplains and reject genetic engineering in general. These are the findings of a new study commissioned and presented by the Federal Minister of the Environment Barbara Hendricks and the President of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Beate Jessel.

Wild nature is indispensable not only for animals and plants, but also for us humans. Germans are in general nature lovers and are in favor of increased Wilderness areas. This study gives us support to pursue our objective to increase the Wilderness areas in Germany to meet the CBD objectives.

Barbara Hendricks
Federal Environment Minister

The study also shows how important for the general population natural flood plains, natural meadows and non managed forests are. This is one more reason for us to protect these habitats, which in addition to their beauty will bring us many other eco system services such as clean water, increased biodiversity, storage of carbon dioxide or reduction of the effects of climate change. What the Germans rightly do not want are genetically modified plants or vegetables. According to BfN-President Beate Jessel: “The Study also showed that 93 percent of the German population are of the opinion that nature should only be used so that the biodiversity and the habitats are permanently saved.”

Carrying capacity limits accepted

Nearly two thirds of Germans like Wilderness the wilder it is. There is a strong desire to enjoy and experience Wilderness: Four out of five people want the Wilderness to be accessible. The fact that there may be carrying capacity controls and access limitations is accepted and respected. Only a minority of 11 per cent are in favor of unrestricted access, 68 percent favor such limitations. At this point in time only few areas in Germany have certified Wilderness areas according to the European Wilderness Quality Standards. There is a general understanding that Wilderness, especially if situated within National Parks, will create new Jobs and enhance a region. Only 21 percent see increased Wilderness areas as a risk for the forestry sector and only 16 per cent see Wilderness as a threat to the agricultural sector.

More Germans are for the return of the Wolf than against it

44% of Germans are in favour of the return of the Wolf to the German ecosystem compared to 41% which are against them returning.

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6 thoughts on “65% of Germans love Wilderness

  1. In Burbank, CA, we have Mountain Lions that come into town and take the little dogs and cats, when they are not hunting the deer(that come into the city to eat our plants) in the Verdugo Mountains. Bob Cats are too small to count. Also, black bears come down from the mountains to visit, as well. Coyotes run wild in town as well. Raccoons dig up my lawn, skunks pass through, not to mention the ugly opossums. Our Fox Squirrels, are much bigger than your little Red Squirrels and the eastern Grey Squirrels and they love to chew on the wires and, or course, any fruit on the trees. The Pacific Ocean is around 15miles away with the 12 foot Great White Sharks that are100 meters out from the sand, not to mention the whales. We do not have any wolves to take care of the pests. Burbank Animal Control told me that the wild animals were here before me and if I didn’t like them, I could move.

  2. See we have the Wolves and just returning to golden jackal to take care of these pests.

  3. Yes, the allies liberated the American raccoons at the end of WWII, but they enjoyed it so much there that they did not want to come home. Our loss is your gain. I hear that the American Grey Squirrels have already conquered the UK and now they are making progress in the EU, such as Germany. In America, the wild animals, like people, enjoy city living much more than roughing it in the wild. Seeing wild boar in the cities is a new one for me. In America, we have wild pigs that run in packs outside of cities, and they are 300 pound pests. In wild pig territory, we are armed with the appropriate caliber firearm.

  4. Toungue in cheek..THe racoons were brought to Germany during the 1930´s… and during the second world war they were released. Today they populate almost all of central Europe north to south. They really like it here!

  5. I think that you can thank the Americans for the cute Raccoons and the lively Grey Squirrels.

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Join more 100+ forest experts demanding a radical change in German forestry management.

Sign the Open Letter to the German Federal Minister of Forestry and Agriculture

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.


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