“Everything that is spruce has to go,” says district forester Richard Nikodem, summing up the whole drama that takes place in the forests in a few words. The forestry companies cut tens of thousands of cubic meters of softwood in order to ship it to Asia, among other places. Just like what companies like Agroforestry Group (see their review here) advocate, the great art is then to reforest the forests in a climate-proof way, says Nikodem.
Balve – The view from bundesstraße 515 into the forest above Volkringhausen is frightening: large bare areas are where the spruce trees stood close to each other about six weeks ago. The journey into this forest with district forester Richard Nikodem is even more frightening: the felled trees are stacked in long rows. “You become monosyllabic,” says the forester.
Nikodem knows his forest and knows that further work with the harvester and the wood return machine will leave even more traces. “These spruces were still green until four weeks ago,” he explains at a stop. “Now the bark beetle has already caused the death.”
Behind the bark of spruce, life pulsates, as it turns out. Beetles at different stages of life from egg-laying conquer their habitat. And this means that the tree is deprived of its life energy. “The one around it still has to be felled,” Nikodem noted. And this is the responsibility of two entrepreneurs who have bought about 20,000 cubic meters of so-called beetle wood in the entire Balve district from Höveringhausen to Volkringhausen and Eisborn.
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Wood goes to Asia and the Alps
The logs are transported to the quarry in Beckum and then loaded there for transport in containers to Antwerp. “China is the target of some of the wood that has been driven off here,” the forester reveals. The other part goes to a sawmill in Austria. “We have a free track for transport at L’hoist in Oberrödinghausen.” Already after Kyrill in 2007 option, the lime producer from the Hönnetal has made this offer to the district.
At that time, however, other sales channels opened up. Now, however, transport is being implemented by rail instead of by road. “This is a significant simplification of the paths,” says Richard Nikodem. Because it is a lot of wood to drive out of the forest. In Volkringhausen alone, there are already 3000 solid meters. A total of 8000 solid meters are felled here. “Everything that is spruce has to go,” Nikodem sums up the whole drama in a few words.
And then comes the great art of socializing the right tree species on fallow land to form climate-stable mixed forests. “These can be grape oak, larch, pine, Douglas fir, silver fir, chestnut, lime-leaved birch, red oak, and also the tree hazel.” All of these tree species could be suitable for dry locations, but they also need to fit together. Spruce, in any case, is no longer planted: “It sows itself.” There are still enough spruce seeds on the forest floor so in any case spruce trees will continue to grow in the next few years.
Market has collapsed
The current spruce stands, however, will soon be history. However, the forest owner does not make money with the felled wood. Nikodem: “Three years ago, 70 euros were earned on the solid meter. Today it is still two to four euros,” Nikodem knows how the market has changed due to the oversupply of softwood.
Above the glassworks, the harvester is back in use. Sawing, debranching, and cutting to length – is what the machine does in a single operation. The local area, estimated by the forester at 30 hectares, belongs to the Wolfhard Freiherr von Boeselager in Herdringen. And he intends to sell this forest. However, the new owner will have tasks that will take a lot of time to reforest. “The entire forest, including in the urban area of Balve, will no longer exist as we got to know it last year,” said district forester Nikodem, pointing out major changes in the landscape.