Greetings from Vogtland vol. 4 – Forest management in a smallholder forest enterprise

Our master students recently participated in a 4-day excursion in the Vogtland-region, and learned many different aspects of forestry and wood products through visits in local forest areas and companies. This blog post series, written by the participating students themselves, highlight some of these encounters!20180626_193914

– Tuesday, 26th .06.2018 Private forest farm: “Unterer Jageswald” at Bergen village

During our 4-day excursion in the Vogtland-region we had a chance to visit a smallholder private forest enterprise owned by the family of a former TU-Dresden Professor (Prof. Uibrig). With his family they own 64 ha of forest characterised by over 90% of Norway spruce, and few old beech trees. Almost 100 years old with around 400 trees/ k. sq, 350 m3/ha, it has not been modified after its repurchase (after the reunification of Germany). Nowadays it is composed of an uneven age natural regeneration part, old plantation and old nursery. His objectives are to maintain a stable forest of site-fitting tree species and provenances and establishment of new natural regeneration stands of 6% within 10 years.

20180626_172814As a passionate forester Prof Uibrig shares his experience with his 2 sons who inherited the 2 parts of his forest.
As he says, “Smallholder forest enterprise require the participation of all family for management activities”. Otherwise, is not easy to overcome all management cost by hiring the professionals.

Owners are changing their forest step-by-step: cut all the old spruce trees, some of them are remained for natural regeneration and replaced by fir trees with the new rotation ~80 – 100 years. Cutting points start from the eastern part to the western part which improves resistance to the western wind. Some oak or beach trees with very huge crown or breaking branches will be cut down to give more light/space for young trees.

Other management activities include inventories and seedling protection by plastic and metal fences. And replanting by maximizing natural generation combined with interplant.

By the incorporation with one association, they have the long-term contract for selling log wood or trees. For that reason, last year (2017), even though the price of wood in the market was reduced by 20% in comparison with 2016 (due to the big storm), they could sell their wood with the price – higher than it in 2016, which was sustainable and profitable. As a previous Professor in Tharandt, he understands the ecological procedures and that what he applied for his forest. He applies Reduce Impact Logging (RIL) with fixed/ permanence skidding roads (every 40 m).

20180626_174322Challenges:

Red deer: not so much in this location,  beech and fir has a chance to regenerate naturally.

Bark beetle: this location is relative high and humid, which means it is less affected by bark beetles than other places.

The price of building up new skidding road is very high (~40 EUR/m). Existing skidding roads must also be improved every year due to flooding conditions of the area. Despite the challenges, the family enterprise cash flow is 8000–35000 Euros per year.

Prof. Uibrig advises foresters in Eastern Germany to consider forest as the capital or the bank account: they could keep or maintain the forest for a long time, not short rotation. This is a successful management model of a smallholder private forest enterprise, and profitable which can be used in our countries to develop the natural regeneration process.

By: Tạ Quốc Trưởng and Esperance Mukamukabo

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