The forest as a classroom

The forest as a classroom

Foresters exploring the Rosskopf Marteloscope in cooperation with ConFoBi researchers

By Bettina Joa

C2) Local biodiversity knowledge and forest conservation practices

In the course of ConFoBi’s yearly information event for foresters managing those forest areas that contain one of the 135 ConFoBi plots, a Marteloscope exercise was conducted with 10 foresters from Forst-BW.

Frank Krumm (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL) and Andreas Schuck (European Forest Institute EFI) introduced the Marteloscope concept as a training tool for thinning exercises revealing common challenges and trade-offs in integrative forest management. Marteloscopes are one hectare forest sites where all trees have been numbered, mapped and measured. The economic value has been calculated for each stem based on tree volume, tree assortments and corresponding local timber price lists. The ecological value (in habitat points) has been assessed for each tree in dependence on the identified microhabitats. With the help of the “I+”software that runs on mobile devices, trees can be virtually harvested and retained. Thereby the results of the individual tree selection, namely the ecological and economic consequences, can be immediately displayed, initiating discussions as well as learning processes.

Virtual thinning with the “I+” Software
Virtual thinning with the “I+” Software

The training exercise on March 22nd took place at the Rosskopf, which belongs to the Freiburg City Forest. The Rosskopf Marteloscope comprises of a multi-layered, about 105 years old stand, consisting mainly of Silver fir, Beech and Douglas fir. Some of the Douglas firs having reached the target diameter, were already harvested in the course of past management operations.

During the exercise, the foresters worked together in 2-person teams dealing with the task of harvesting 30m³ Douglas fir and 20m³ Beech, while retaining 10 habitat trees, ideally showing ecological valuable microhabitat structures. While trade-offs and different decision options were already intensively discussed during the one-hour thinning exercise within the teams, the final discussion with all 10 participants went even more vivid. When asked to present their decisions for specific trees, participants gave very different, yet comprehensible justifications for either retaining, harvesting or leaving the specific tree.

Foresters from Forst-BW exploring the Rosskopf Marteloscope.
Foresters from Forst-BW exploring the Rosskopf Marteloscope.

The results of the thinning exercise confirmed that there are diverse approaches to effectively integrate conservation objectives in forest management. Thereby, individual strategies may both be influenced by different goals and preferences, stand and landscape structures, background experiences and maybe also by a pinch of gut feeling. To make oneself aware about this, Martelocope exercises can be very illustrative and may even stimulate changes of perspective.

Even after spending a whole afternoon in the “forest classroom”, there is still much to discuss and learn about integrative forest management. Thus, this will certainly not have been the last ConFoBi Marteloscope exercise.

Having fun in the forest classroom.
Having fun in the forest classroom.

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