Societal Change Unit



Accident figures in the Baden-Württemberg State Forest have risen to unacceptable levels since 2005. In recent years, the number of reportable accidents was about 150 per year for foresters employed by the state-owned company ForstBW. In order to investigate the causes and counteract further accidents, researchers at the FVA have analysed the events of accidents and safety management by ForstBW from different perspectives in the project ‘Occupational safety in forestry work’ (project duration 2018-2020).

The Societal Change Unit (formerly the Societal Change Department) examined occupational safety from the perspective of forestry personnel.
This qualitative social science analysis focuses on the wealth of know-how of forestry workers employed in the state forest. They are the people most directly affected by the issue of occupational safety in forestry work. As employees who have witnessed accidents and near misses on site, either directly or with their colleagues, they have detailed and practical knowledge of the processes before, during and after accidents at work. They can also provide a holistic picture of their daily work, in which indications of problems and risks can be detected.  

From the combined project results, the FVA researchers were able to derive the core hyptheses that further technical improvements and further coaching can only achieve their potential for occupational safety if problems of work organisation, appreciative leadership and internal communication are addressed and resolved at the same time.

Many people and companies are currently involved in tree-planting projects in the forest or are contributing financially to reforestation projects. This reflects both the great concern for the forest and the willingness to engage actively for forest conservation.

Contact: Ms. Wiebke Hebermehl

The importance of Baden-Württemberg’s forests as places for leisure, recreation and sports is steadily increasing. This is fostered by a growing desire for nature, the trend towards regional tourism, new forms of (e-)outdoor sports and, last but not least, the pandemic-related restrictions.

Contact: Dr. Stephanie Bethmann (Ms.)

Finding ways to coexist with wildlife is one of the most controversial challenges of our time. Wolves, bears, lynx and wolverines (in Scandinavia) are increasingly returning to their former habitats, leading to conflicts between conservationists and livestock farmers and to socio-economic problems in livestock farming. To reduce such conflicts, we need to educate ourselves, design evidence-based advisory models, and work with farmers, landowners, hunters, and citizens facing ‘large carnivores’ to develop regional and supra-regional solutions to their problems. To this end, the EUROLARGECARNIVORES project ‘Improving co-existence with large carnivores in Europe through communication, cross-border cooperation and knowledge exchange’ was supported by the EU LIFE programme. While the primary focus is on reducing anxieties and protecting farm animals, issues such as illegal killings, migration corridors, and investment and support needs are also addressed in addition to herd protection.

The 17 partner institutions and over 65 employees from 14 European countries with 12 languages were highly motivated to create a European network and a platform on which all stakeholders can exchange ideas across borders. For many of the social, political and economic challenges posed by wolf, lynx, bear and wolverine, solution-oriented case studies and recommended examples of certain aspects of large carnivore management were developed, which were considered by the participants of the EuroLargeCarnivores project in various European countries to be successful or at least promising, providing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

The results of the project have been used to derive recommendations for action for different levels of political decision-making. Information material has been produced in different languages for keepers of various farm animals and pets, for committed members of non-governmental organisations and associations, and for journalists and teachers (e.g. the European ‘Factsheets’ (provided in multiple languages, including German). 

For additional materials, see Life Euro Large Carnivores

The FVA’s Societal Change Unit, in cooperation with the FVA Wildlife Institute and the elmauer institute: managing consensus, had the primary tasks of:

  • providing strategic and methodological advice and support to partners on the social science aspects of this work;
  • conducting regional participatory stakeholder identification and analysis at the start of the project in order to improve the understanding of local contexts and to provide a basis for future activities;
  • conducting an impact analysis at the end of the project using these initial data and predefined success indicators.

The corresponding publication and report can be found here:


Forestry training courses have been held in Baden-Württemberg since 2016: A permanent team of trainers regularly trains ForstBW employees directly at their workplace and thus demonstrates the Forest Development Type Directive introduced in 2014 in a practical manner.

This evaluation study focused on the direct impact of forestry training on the participants and on the frame conditions that influence training effectiveness. In addition to standardised surveys and group discussions were carried out and analysed using reconstructive methods.

Important factors for a successful implementation of the training contents include the relevance of the contents for the participants, characteristics of the participants, quality of the training itself, the working environment in everyday life, as well as the companys’ internal framework conditions for the application of what has been learned. Recommendations for the further development of the training courses have been developed on this basis.

Contact: Ms. Kristina Wirth

InnoForESt seeks to spark a transformation of the European forest sector by stimulating innovations for the sustainable supply and financing of forest ecosystem services.

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The forest has been the focus of public attention for years. This is accompanied by changes in the expectations of forestry. In empirical research, the relationship between the public and forestry was examined in the light of specific situations of encounters such as forest days, conflicts and citizens’ initiatives. Practical aids for communication were developed in the form of a brochure and a training concept based on the findings.

Contact: Dr. Stephanie Bethmann (Ms.)

The project ‘Every truth has two sides – also in the forest’ has developed various media components (cartoons, films, portraits) to support appreciative communication and constructive dialogue.

To the project website

Psychological (forest) ownership (excerpt from the animated short film ‘My Forest, Your Forest, Our Forest’ [‘Mein Wald, Dein Wald, Unser Wald’. © FVA)

The Project ‘Percpetions of Forest ownership’ provides insights into the relationship of forest visitors to the forest and their understanding of forest ownership. The investigation focused on the following questions: How common are feelings of ‘my forest’ and ‘our forest’ among forest visitors? How do these feelings come about? How do they relate to experiences and behaviour in the forest and the perception of (legal) property?

Contact: Mr. Dominik Menton-Enderlin

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