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Forest & Climate

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Wald & Klima

Why are afforestation projects needed?

One of the greatest challenges of our time is the climate crisis. An important part of mitigating climate change is dealing with the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), of which emissions into the atmosphere exacerbate global warming. The impacts of steadily increasing CO2 concentrations, since the industrial revolution, are already evident. The earth has already warmed by about one degree since the 19th century, sea levels are rising steadily, severe weather events are increasing and habitats are being increasingly destroyed.

 

It is now necessary to actively counteract this development and consciously remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This is where the so-called “carbon sinks” come into play, natural reservoirs that absorb and store carbon dioxide from the air. Worldwide afforestation projects can help to create these in the long term.

It should be noted that a forest can only act as a functional carbon sink if the trees still have biological advantages through height growth, i.e., the forest is not yet a fully grown primeval forest.

Wald
Wiese Gräser

CO2 sequestration as a strategic corporate goal

The conscious decision of a company to support local reforestation projects can have various reasons. The underlying reason is not only CO2 sequestration, but also the sustainable promotion of regional projects that not only reduce emissions, but also protect biodiversity and support the German forest. Furthermore, a local offset project allows for total transparency and immediate action. 

Currently, no regular CO2 certificates  * are issued for afforestation projects in the EU. It therefore depends on what the company interested in climate protection wants to achieve:  

 

  • Does it require certificates for a designated CO2 offset of the company?  

  • Or is there an original climate-improving interest - independent of regulated CO2 certificates - in capturing CO2 with the goal of climate protection as a strategic corporate objective?

strat. Unternehmensziel

The afforestation of the German forest in existing and additional areas

The fact that regulated certificates are no longer issued in the EU since Glasgow and Kyoto is justified by the so-called "double counting": In the EU, all forest and wooded areas and the associated CO2 uptake have already been counted once in this census. It was therefore legally established that the issuance of CO2 certificates would be double counting and therefore the distribution of these CO2 certificates has been discontinued until further notice.

The situation is different for areas that have not yet been recorded as forest areas. These include, for example, military training areas, disused airports, pasture land or comparable areas.  In the logic of the legislator, the argument of "additionality" applies here: new areas that are newly developed with the aim of conversion into forests are not subject to the above-mentioned double counting.

The conversion of these areas into new forest and woodland is possible and is rewarded with certificates on the so-called voluntary market. These certificates are audited and must meet certain standards. In Germany, the market leader is the "gold standard", but there are also additional certification providers.

Since, according to the current Federal Forest Report, the damage to the German forest caused by devastation and calamities is documented regionally to be up to more than 40 %, the question arises as to whether this double counting, which has prevented the award of CO2 certificates in the regulated market, is actually justifiable in the long term.

Setzlinge
Bindung vs. Ablasshanel
bestehende vs.züsätzlicheFläcen

The societal significance of the forest over the course of time

- thoughts on the forest -
a guest post by dr. Marianne Titze

O valleys wide, O heights

O beautiful green forest;

Thou of my lust and travail

Andächt'ger Aufenthalt.

Out there always deceived,

The busy world is whirring;

Once more, turn your bows

around me once more, thou green tent.

 

Eichendorf's famous poem already addresses the negative influence of urban life in contrast to nature.

It has now been scientifically proven that spending time in the forest impacts the body: Heart rate and blood pressure decrease. In a Japanese study, immunological stimulation through chemical transmitters in the forest was researched. The positive effect of children having contact with soil while playing has also been proven: They get fewer diseases and allergies, their creativity is demonstrably increased.

 

At the beginning of the records on Germania Magna, however, Plinius wrote:

"The forests cover the whole of Germania and unite the cold with the darkness."

 

At that time, 80% of the land was forested. After the battle against the Romans in the Teutoburg Forest, which resulted in heavy losses, Germania began to grow stronger and became independent of Rome, with the first use of wood for building settlements and for the construction of the Limes to secure the border.

 

In the Middle Ages, large-scale clearings began for settlements and agriculture. Rules for forest use were established and large areas became the property of kings, princes and the church.

 

By 1250, the forest cover had fallen to its current level of 30 %.

 

Since the forest was also used for agriculture - cattle were driven into the forest to feed, the falling leaves served as chaff - nutrients were removed from the forest. On the resulting raw soils, the tree species could no longer rejuvenate.

Between 1750 and 1850, the forest was destroyed over a large area. 

From the middle of the 19th century, a massive wave of afforestation began.

The use of wood as a raw material - charcoal burners' huts for the production of charcoal; oak bark for tanning leather, etc. - and hunting dominated man's interest in the forest for a long time.

In the Romantic period, the forest was exaggerated as a place of longing and stylised as a national symbol.

Joseph von Eichendorf repeatedly evoked the rustling forest as an attempt to aesthetically restore the experience of man's separation from nature as a unity. - Dense forests were also favourite places in fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm.

In his operas, Carl Maria von Weber evoked the forest as a place of terror, but also of piety and redemption.

 

The movement of nature lovers, hikers, hiking clubs that began in the 19th century, as well as incipient völkische movements, saw forests as an important element of German cultural landscapes.

 

Today, the forest as a cultural asset is evident in discussions about forest dieback, forest cemeteries, forest education and forest kindergartens in all areas of society.

National parks have been created (Bavarian Forest, Harz, Spreewald, Schorfheide); after the development of long-distance hiking trails and hikers' huts, forests and parks have been opened to the public (after Berlin Tiergarten, English Garden in Munich, Gruga Park Essen).

Thus, forests and parks have a very crucial importance for people today and play a major role in the life of each individual in their leisure time activities and thus also in their maintenance of health.

Gedanken zum Wald
Waldbild Gemälde
Rotkäppchen
Wald im Nebel Luftaufnahme

What is the significance of mitigation for climate change?

In climate policy, mitigation basically means reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the global rise in temperature. The current goal is to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The most important measure is to phase out the burning of fossil raw materials for energy production and to switch to alternative energy sources such as wind or water power. In addition, climate-damaging CO2 must ideally be removed from the atmosphere. An important factor would be the afforestation of forests, as plants bind carbon dioxide. Soils are also considered important carbon reservoirs; accordingly, measures must be taken to protect peatlands and permafrost soils. However, technical measures can theoretically also be pursued, such as the capture and underground storage of CO2.

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