Greetings from Vogtland vol. 9 – Charcoal festival and the church forest

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!

IMG-5152Charcoal festival, church and forest. What do these four words have in common?

Well, in the region of Vogtland, in the southwestern part of Saxony, about 5300 hectares of the forest growth areas are owned by some parishes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony. These forests were established 50 years ago and are managed by two cooperatives that can be understood as communities of solidarity based on sustainability.

One of the associations, that we got to know during our excursion to Vogtland, was the “Kirchliche Waldgemainschaft Vogtland” (KWG). It consists of three employees, a forest management and two forest workers, and the voluntary fellows that join in the activities that this community is carrying out.

One of the activities is the charcoal production, which is the reason for celebration in the charcoal festival. Once a year 3 tons of charcoal are produced on the yard of a church, following an ancestral tradition. The charcoal is burned and voluntary fellows operate a traditional earth mound kiln and sell the produced charcoal. That annual production is around 320 bags of 10 kilos each.

But that is not all, during Christmas time, the church association delivers trees to other communities and as surplus is having three certified mother stands for commercial seed production of species as maple, larch, fir and spruce.

The forests stands that this church owns are managed through social and regional responsibility, economic thinking and ecological design. For this community the ecological aspects are strongly pronounced and as community of solidarity all the revenues and expenses are distributed among the members. The KWG Vogtland may be an example to follow in the region, as in 2013 they got the award for exemplary forest management.

By: Gabriela Huidobro

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