Non-commercial woodland strips

The »belts of conservation-use woodland« (framed in bright green, total size 17 ha) cut through commercial forestry compartments and plot boundaries (red lines). They were taken out of commercial use permanently following an initial implementation phase that ran until 2013 (very intensive conifer removals took place within the red areas). Minimum width of the conservation strips is 40 m, and they were chosen using one or both of two criteria – their ability to help establish wildlife routes to the green bridge; and because they were already areas of high ecological value (e.g. population of old oaks). (aerial image DOP20, LVermA Geo SH 2011)
The conservation areas contain old-growth forest populations consisting mostly of beech and oak that run through otherwise young forest areas, much as extended hedge banks. They are particularly valuable for wood-inhabiting (xylobiont) species and hole- and cave-dwelling species. As with all the trees within the conservation belts, these trees will to be allowed to grown on in a completely natural fashion, right through to the point where they decay and die. They will subsequently be left on site as dead wood to benefit other wildlife. (picture: Dr. Aiko Huckauf)

Belts of partially mature deciduous woodland – mainly beech and oak – are excluded from commercial forestal use and are at least 40 m wide. The belts act as starting points to expand the stock of old and mature trees that are to be excluded from commercial felling rotations. The intention is that the strips and other surviving stands of old native trees will become inter-connected over time and the green corridors managed solely for nature conservation purposes, financed by project resources.

The interconnected woodland conservation strips form a network running towards the green bridge at Kiebitzholm, so stenotopic species and woodland species with a low power of dispersal will find their way to the wildlife viaduct and beyond.

Within the conservation woodland areas, wild plant and animal species will achieve their own dynamic population balances without being disrupted or disturbed by human forestry activities. Existing populations of mature deciduous trees have been integrated into the conservation areas. To do this, non-native tree species such as grand fir (Abies grandis), sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and common spruce (Picea abies) were largely removed from these areas. Stands of older Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and birch (Betula pendula/pubescens) were retained. The objective is to establish a linear connection to the adjacent bog areas and open meadowlands.

The conservation woodland stands are permanently protected from commercial forestry use, conditions which have been secured by contract and land registry entry.

This conservation woodland project has not been admitted into the federal state-wide unmanaged forest reserves of the SHLF, as work may still need to be done to remove naturally regenerating saplings of grand fir, sitka spruce, common spruce and Douglas fir. Unlike the situation in other natural woodland reserves, forestry work can take place in the conservation areas of this woodland if agreed beforehand between the state forestry operators and the Stiftung Naturschutz.

The actions were implemented in winter of 2011/2012. At the same time, several artificial dens were installed in the strip of pristine woodland to monitor bats, and even in 2012 a surprising number of male Bechstein’s bats (Myotis bechsteinii) were found.

A close watch will be kept on how the natural woodland areas develop. One particularly interesting issue is the competition between native deciduous trees and the mountain black cherry (Prunus serotina). The latter is quite abundant to the west of the green bridge in particular and may play a crucial role in the natural balance of the conservation woodland areas.

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