Overview - Forestry in Germany

Forestry in Germany

3. Hunting as a main factor influencing the forests in Germany

Hunting always was an important leisure activity of the aristocracy in Germany. In medieval times this primarily resulted in the conservation of several forest districts, because farmers were not allowed to cut trees there. Later in the "absolutist" era of the 17th and 18th century the number of deer and wild boar increased drastically. "For large aristocratic hunting parties, extensive numbers of hunters were needed, whose scope of responsibilities had already been divided into a wide range of specialized fields and tasks." There was no care taken for the natural regeneration of the forests which locally also were exploited to generate income for the aristocracy. "In the mid-1800s, hunting and forestry objectives were initially identical, but the pressure of a growing scarcity in timber led to rapidly developing scientific approaches to forest utilization and tending measures.

The original predominance of hunting over forestry was dissolved by the late 1800s/early 1900s, and hunting and wildlife science was assigned a minor role within forestry." (Schwartz 2002) Nevertheless especially in the Nazi-period (1933-1945) and today in some private forests hunting interests were or are quite dominant and forest trees and their regeneration suffer severely from damage by game. By the distinction of rare species and due to the high costs of fence protection for broadleaf trees this often results in pure pine and spruce stands. The timber quality of those even might be diminished by the debarking activities of deer.

Source: Schwartz, E. 2002. Die Verflechtung von Forstwirtschaft und Jagd in der Geschichte. (The Historical Intermeshing between Forestry and Hunting: German with English summary). Forst und Holz 57 (7), 195-199

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