Updating the General Concept for Forest Nature Conservation

Initial Situation

In 2014, the general concept for forest nature conservation (GK WNS) came into force in Baden-Württemberg. It is the technical concept for the forest, which substantiates the federal nature conservation strategy.

The aim of the GK WNS is to link a large number of different nature conservation and legal framework conditions. This should contribute to the resolution of conflicting goals and facilitate the practical implementation of species and biotope protection.

The previously valid GK WNS contains ten goals that should be achieved by the year 2020 (see "Die Gesamtkonzeption Waldnaturschutz ForstBW – mit den Waldnaturschutzzielen 2020"). These goals were aimed at the state forest and required to be implemented in it. For private and corporate forests, the GK WNS is only of a recommendatory nature.

The degree of implementation and target achievement of the ten targets in the state forest was evaluated by ForstBW and FVA.

A good implementation status was certified for the following objectives:

  • Objective 1 – Preserving regionally typical, near-natural forest communities
  • Objective 2 – Involve 15% of light tree species
  • Objective 4 – Preserve and promote historical forms of forest use
  • Objective 6 – Develop a management concept for forest target species

The objectives achieved a mediocre implementation status:

  • Objective 3 – Maintain sparse forest biotopes on special locations
  • Objective 7 – Develop a species information system and monitoring for forest target species
  • Objective 8 – Designate a target of 8-10% process protection areas
  • Objective 9 – Practice-oriented research
  • Objective 10 – improve transparency and communication, strengthen competencies

An insufficient implementation status was only certified for one objective:

  • Objective 5 – Safeguard and restore wet site forests

The reasons given for this were, for example, the high expenditure of time for technical preliminary investigations, the time-consuming planning and approval, the professional resolution of conflicting goals and the often considerable financial outlay. These reasons can be seen as typical obstacles to the implementation of the GK WNS goals that have not yet been completed.

Aim of the effort to update the General Concept for Forest Nature Conservation

The goals that have not yet been fully achieved are to be implemented further. To this end, the existing obstacles to implementation must be analysed and removed as far as possible.

A criticism of the existing GK WNS is that the underlying technical concepts, contrary to its objective, often exist separately from each other and are hardly intertwined or weighed against each other. The technical concepts are and were pursued with the goals and other existing forest nature conservation instruments (e.g. ‘Alt- und Totholzkonzept’ and Natura 2000 in the forest).

In order to promote the further development of GK WNS in this aspect, consideration is being given to blending the previous goals with the future topics that have already been identified. This should make intersections clear and increase the interaction of the newly established goals. Topics that run through most of the goals and need more attention in the future include

  • communication (information and dialogue),
  • practical relevance / legal certainty in practice and
  • habitat connectivity.

A central factor that must underlie all considerations of biotope and species protection is climate change. It causes dynamic changes in the local characteristics, which can be expressed, for example, in shifts in potential biotope and species occurrences. The models and measures of the new GK WNS must also be able to deal with changing environmental factors in a correspondingly dynamic manner.

In addition to climate change, the ownership of forest areas must also be more in focus in the future: In Baden-Württemberg, around a quarter of the forest areas are state-owned. The occurrence of the protected goods is not primarily influenced by the types of forest ownership. Comprehensive biodiversity protection should therefore also involve private and corporate forest owners. Their voluntary cooperation must be won through appropriate instruments for information and financial support as well as communication and cooperation on an equal footing with all relevant stakeholder groups. Appropriate instruments are to be prepared as part of further development.

At the beginning of 2020, the administrative tasks for the forest in Baden-Württemberg were split up between ForstBW (state forest) and the state forest administration (private and corporate forest). This division of tasks will also be reflected in the structure of the future GK WNS (see Fig. 4).

An overall strategy should represent the target states to be aimed for across all types of forest ownership. Framed by this common strategic-political umbrella, property-type-specific sub-concepts are to be developed: The state forest administration is concentrating on making the topic attractive for forest owners through information, understandable formulations and processes, as well as facilitation. For the state forest - and thus ForstBW - the implementation obligation remains. Here you can concentrate on the most comprehensive, technically coherent and efficient implementation of the measures. In all cases, the necessary resources for successful implementation must be made available.

As a result of the further development process, an General Concept for Forest Nature Conservation at landscape level is aimed for, which sees the forest in Baden-Württemberg as a whole and includes forest-related landscape elements in the planning.

However, regional aspects are also taken into account: a bird's-eye view should result in a big picture, instead of a patchwork quilt of incoherent measures. By prioritizing the measures in terms of space and time, the diverse forest nature conservation goals in the forest should be able to be implemented in the best possible way. Conflicts of interest between forest nature conservation goals and ecosystem services are to be resolved as comprehensively as possible. This is intended to ensure the “greatest possible overall benefit” of all ecosystem services. The targets must be regionally specific enough for those responsible locally to be able to derive concrete measures and criteria for monitoring effectiveness are also in place. The GK WNS must take into account the different tasks of the state forest administration (LFV) and ForstBW.

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