Just Agriculture, Alimentation Sovereignty and Forest Use

Leaving dead and damaged wood in the forest

What's the problem?

In current practice, "dead and damaged wood" is usually removed from the forest for economic reasons. However, it is of great importance for forest ecosystems and their resilience, and purely economic considerations must no longer be of importance in times of climate change.

What is the measure?

The measure therefore is to leave dead and damaged wood in the forest to a far greater extent. In protected areas anyway, but also in forests used for economic purposes. Trees which are settled in "untidied" areas by wind flight and by the transport of seeds by birds and other animals are more stable, less risky and more resilient than those planted by humans, since they are species adapted to the location and their roots have not been damaged by replanting. "Damaged wood" offers good conditions to young trees for natural regeneration due to a better moisture balance, nutrient storage and protection against extreme weather or strong sunlight. All functions of "damaged wood" for natural regeneration are of exceptional value, especially in times of climate change.

How can the implementation look like?

If less wood is felled and the trees are allowed to grow older and thicker, there should quickly be more deadwood. And then simply leave it lying around. So it is a matter of simply omiting action and turning aways from economic productivity and profit thinking.

How will this work against climate change?

Carbon is stored in the deadwood itself, which is only gradually released through slow decomposition and is usually directly re-metabolized by the deadwood organisms. Deadwood thus contributes to further carbon sequestration. Together with regenerating forest soils, deadwood could bind an average of 8 million tons of CO2 per year in Germany.

What other positive effects does the measure have?

Other very relevant effects are erosion protection of the soils. Furthermore, the wood serves as an additional water reservoir and as a habitat for countless animal and plant species until it has decomposed completely. Dead trees are inhabited by fungi, beetles, birds and bats and used as nesting and breeding places. Many beetles, which are on the Red List of Threatened Species, depend on such wood as their habitat. Especially dead wood from beech and oak trees is a valuable habitat. The diversity of species is maintained and promoted. This is of enormous importance for stable ecosystems, especially in times of rapid species extinction.

How quickly can the measure be implemented?

The implementation can start immediately.

How long does it take the measure to become effective?

Since Germany's forests are relatively young, it takes some time until really old trees and thus also large dead trees are existent. However, for example, dead wood accumulates very quickly, especially in oak forests, which also provides a particularly valuable habitat.

References to other measures

References to protected areas, ecological near-natural forest management and more efficient wood use.

Problems of social, global or generational justice

An often articulated concern is the affection by e.g. bark beetles in conifer monocultures and the affection of similarly structured areas by leaving the damaged wood lying around. Overall however, (see also other measures) the conversion to site-adapted, stable and near-natural mixed cultures is aimed at. This forest conversion is thus advanced faster than the much slower conversion from a culture of the same age to a structurally rich mixed forest. There could be compensation payments for this.


Volka 27.11.2019 15:01 At the moment (2019) the high amount of damaged wood in the (monoculture) forests leads to calamities and the widespread dying of whole forests / felling. This is the first right step for the creation of national parks. On the other hand, a valuable building material is lost, which could replace vast amounts of concrete.