No compensation without livestock protection measures

The provincial government of Schleswig-Holstein recently decided to only pay compensation for lifestock losses if proper herd protection measures where in place. The decision obliges farmers with more than 500 sheep to put up herd protection fences. The state will completely finance the installation of 1,2m high electrical fences for large-scale farms. With this step, the government wants to strengthen the protective measures against the wolf and motivate farmers to cooperate in this plan.

Obligation to install electrical fences for large sheep farms

The decicion of the provincial government of Schleswig-Holstein follows ongoing protests of concerned sheep farmers. In particular, in the districts of Dithmarschen, Pinneberg, Steinburg and Segeberg several wolf attacks on livestock happend in the last months. The government recently confirmed the presence of another wolf in the province. The provices’s agricultural minister, Jan Philipp Albrecht, announced that his ministry will finance permanent protective fences for farms with more than 500 sheep. This decision to fully compensate livestock protection and damages goes in line with a decision by the EU last year. Sheep farmers in the mentioned districts have to protect their sheep with 1,20m high electrical fences, preferable in blue. Farmers can informally apply for the funding of these fences at the ministry after buying them.

Only farmers having the according prevention measures will get compensation for sheep killed by a wolf. The money comes from the budget allocated for the wolf management. However, the government said that the implementation of this recent decision might take a while. The preparations could take weeks and up to months. Unfortunately, the coastal areas and dykes of the province, where sheep are used to secure the protection of the coast, will be excluded from the prevention area.

Important step for extensive herd protection

This decision of the provincial government of Schleswig-Holstein is an important step to push the implementation of livestock protection measures. However, at this moment it only demands the installation of electrical fences on farms with more than 500 sheep. These large-scale farms own about 60% of the sheep in the districts of Dithmarschen, Pinneberg, Steinburg and Segeberg. Herd protection fences are currently not 100% funded for smaller farms. So, including smaller farms in the province’s funding scheme would be an important and necessary next step to guarantee extensive livestock protection. Furthermore, the use of herding and guarding dogs as well as shepherds also proves to significantly decrease attacks on livestock. Countries, like Switzerland and the Netherlands, already decidet to financially support the use of guarding dogs.

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One thought on “No compensation without livestock protection measures

  1. In my opinion it’s a big mistake to limit the funding to big herds. What we really need in Germany is 100 % funding for livestock-protection material AND payment for the extra-work neccessary to put livestock-protection measures into work. LGDs can always only be voluntary as we are talking about living animals and not material. So, keepers of LGDs always have to be “willing keepers” – and mustn’t be forced to keep LGDs. Those willing to should also be funded 100 % – but not for the buy price of the dogs but for the yearly maintenance.
    As we need preventive livestock-protection (which in fact we don’t have yet, as by now funding in most of Germany is given – if at all – not until there is a resident wolf for at least 6 month in the area – and that’s much too late!), that must be realised on 100 % of the area of Germany RIGHT NOW, as a wolf can appear everyday everywhere. And funding must be provided for all livestock keepers, no matter whether their farm is hobby, part or full acquisition. EU-commission has shown the way how to achieve this last week or the other. So itr’s up to politics to make it work. And about a year after this is set up, livestock keepers must be forced to realise livestock-protection measures, and those refusing to must be severly punished.
    If we don’t achieve this 100 % preventive protection, there’ll be no chance for the coexistence of wolf and livestock in the long run. The only chance we have is that young wolves, when approaching livestock behind a fence for the very first time, make such a horrible experience because of electricity and/or LGDs that they will never ever try again. If they learn how to overcome livestock-protection measures, it’s their sentence of death.

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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.

Motto: SYSTEMIC FOREST ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT INSTEAD OF WOOD FACTORY

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