Our master students participated in a bike excursion on July 1st – 6th 2019 as part of the module “Organization and Management Systems”. Along a track of about 220 km by the Neiße river at the border between Germany and Poland, various forests and forest organizations were visited. The blog post series, written by the students, reflect the impression and lessons learned.
On the fifth day of the excursion, we started from Przewoz, Poland and cycled to Wymiarki, which forests are managed by Wymiarki Forest District, one of twenty forest districts in Regional Directorate of State Forests in Zielona Góra, Poland, and began the lesson about Polish state forest management. Poland has 30% of forest land. One noticeable thing is that most forest land areas are owned by the State (about 80%) and there is only a very small proportion of forest owned by the community.
It was an adventurous trip for all of us since we had to ride on a sandy road which made it super hard to control our bikes. Along the road, it is easy to recognize that pine is the dominant species which have a higher chance to survive on the very poor soil. Despite of that, the Polish government is trying to plant oaks inside pine forests to create diversity in forest composition. Because of soil condition, they need to plow the soil to open up the way for mineral resource for the trees to survive. Weeding is applied once a year manually, and for thinning, they will take out trees with low quality. Forest enterprises are hired to be in charge of this task. When conducting tree cutting, natural regeneration is also considered: if there are any gaps between the trees (usually between oak and pine) then they will keep both; if not they will cut the bad tree. The principal or guideline for thinning is to cut the weak trees or too big ones but provide low wood quality, and the aim is to get the homogeneous characteristic of the forest. Pine is planted to provide sawlogs, pulp or firewood, and it is more preferred than other trees in terms of commercial value.
Another interesting point is that all the biomass is kept inside the forest. However, it will create a high risk of fire occurrence. Every year, there are around 450 cases of fire, only in Zielona Góra. Most of them are man-made but not intentionally, sometimes just a head of a cigarette throwing into the forest can easily create a damaging fire. Facing this problem, birch is planted along the road, serving as a fire break to prevent fire approach because they do not catch fire as quickly as pines.
Continued going, we arrived at the headquarters of Wymiarki Forest District and were warmly welcomed by the members of the management board. After a small retreat with coffee, tea and Berliners and a short tour around the building, a presentation about forest management in Zielona Góra started. Through the presentation, many impressive statistics about forest management were shown, as well as the way to enhance people awareness through ecological education, tourism, and recreation. Every year, there are different forms of forest education, such as field training or indoor lessons are organized, and 90 thousand people attend these activities. Moreover, because of the cross-border location of Wymiarki, there are several common projects and cooperation between Polish and German government to conduct activities and reach common goals in forest protection and management. This cooperation enables more opportunities for sustainable forest protection and development in the future.
Apart from cooperation in forest management, this border indeed cooperates in operating a stunning and historic park! The fantastic park on the border between Germany and Poland is the place for us to explore on the last day of the bicycle excursion.
Muskau Park was laid out from 1815 onwards at the behest of Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871) as a landscape park. After prolonged studies in England, the prince came up with an idea to learn from English architecture to build up a park with hills and water flows instead of a flat area as usual. Moreover, at that time, he also planned to remodel the Baroque “Old Castle” – actually a former castle gate – and the construction of a Gothic Revival chapel, an English cottage, several bridges designed by Friedrich Ludwig Persius. Pückler reconstructed the medieval fortress as the “New Castle”, the compositional center of the park.
Spending more than 2 hours to ride around the park, we were really excited and surprised with the impressive natural landscape here. Especially, the hills in the park are very effective in helping visitors get a wider and farther panoramic view. Then we had lunch together at the lake shore and enjoy a beautiful view of the new castle. After lunch with lots of funny stories and laughter, we packed up, headed back to Dresden city and finished 6-day journey!
By Ha Anh Nguyen and Quoc Dung Phan