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Improving habitats and conserving species

The 1,000 giant trees project

The 1,000 giant trees project constitutes a core project as part of a framework contract between the Federal Forestry Office (Bundesforst) and Rentenbank. The mixed deciduous and coniferous forest at Winterstein in the region of Wetterau in the state of Hesse presents an ideal starting point, as it is characterized by a large proportion of mature trees.

The aim of the project is to secure specific trees which are important for nature and species conservation. To this end mature, large trees which are full of life are removed from the timber business so they can rejuvenate the forest naturally through their seed scattering. In addition, some branches die as part of the trees’ aging process. They provide valuable cavities and shelter for species which may now no longer be native to the cultivated forests. Protecting the giant trees has meant that we have improved the habitat for rare species and stabilized their populations. To identify the giant trees at any time, we localized them by GPS and attached environmentally-friendly plaques to them (see photo).

Forest edges create important habitats

The Grimmelschneise project

Due to the way they are shaped, forest edges have a very high value from a nature conservation perspective. The change from light to shade and the impact of the transition from tree to shrub and herb layers create ecological nooks and crannies for specialized animal and plant species.

The special compositions and temperatures within the forest edges provide optimal living conditions for insects which are the main source of food for many types of bats and birds. Forest edges therefore constitute a typical hunting ground for bats and birds.

The Grimmelschneise project aims to optimize feeding and hunting ground for bats and birds by creating better living conditions for insects. We initiated a package of measures from initial preparation to maintenance measures to support the project.

Actively preparing the cleared areas and removing shade-giving individual trees sheds increased light on the flora and fauna around the paths and means that flowering plants can thrive and numerous insects can settle there as well. In addition, flowering shrubs are planted and grass seed and herb mixtures are sown along the edges of the paths. The aim is to create a meadow from spring until summer for bees, butterflies and other insects.

Amphibians and reptiles are also supported by this project which is financed by Rentenbank. To this end, we created wetlands and rocky habitats where the animals like to live.

The Caspar David Friedrich forest project

Images with a mixture of healthy individual trees, timber from trees which are dying and numerous clearings or ’silvopastures’ are best known from the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) but a rarity in today’s standard commercialized forests.

An expert in nature conservation might say that, due to their sparsity, silvopastures do however provide shelter for rare animal and plant species which require the light and warmth that dark forests do not offer. The Caspar David Friedrich Forest project aims to emulate a regular grazing of the forest using periodic measures paying special attention to light conditions in the forest and in the soil. 

A large number of species of insects and butterflies which like warmth benefit from the warmer forest climate with patches of light. They, in turn, provide the main food source for many species of birds and bats. Various types of plants also thrive in sparse forests. This includes protected species (e.g. liverwort, snowdrops and hedge violets), which have become rarer in our forests which are mostly dark.

The measures supported by Rentenbank should specifically prevent the emergence of a dense canopy allowing enough light to reach the forest floor. Furthermore, providing dead wood and rocky habitats will create additional habitats for beetles which live in wood, reptiles, birds and bats.