During the Corona pandemic, in which almost everyone is following online programs, a remarkable step was taken for the well-being of the Tropical Forestry Master students. A field trip was arranged under the framework of the “Organization and Management System” module, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Jürgen Pretzsch and Dr. Eckhard Auch. The research assistant Gabriela Huidobro Jáuregui also participated in this trip with the students and captured the memorable moments of the excursion on her camera.
The Sächsische Schweiz National Park is one the most attractive landscape to visit for the people who love nature, in Germany. It seems like heaven when you reach the top of the mountain. The sandstone mountains are considered as the most romantic and attractive place from the previous eras. These places used to be chosen by the German painters for their artistic activity.
The park ranger, Mr. Jens Posthoff, guided us through the park and described the geographical details, flora and fauna, different risk factors, potentials, their management activities, and the challenges they had to face and how they deal with them.
According to him, around 7 million visitors visit the park every year. People do not have to pay any entrance fees. The climbers are one of the key stakeholders of the national park. Only climbers can stay in the park at night in caves. The park receives an income from wood selling. Besides this park also earn from filmmakers. The collected money is used for maintenance of the park. As there is no limitation on the number of visitors, and during the last time, the number of visitors has increased, it is time to think about the carrying capacity of the park.
In the park, there is about 500 km of paths made for the visitors. One of the purposes of those paths is to reduce erosion, as the sandstone mountains are very prone to erosion. Along the paths, we observed lots of sand, which was the result of the erosion.
The environmental changes have an influential effect on the tree species especially, on Spruce. We observed many dead spruce trees in the park. Where some other exotic tree species found survived well.
Another risk factor of the park is fire. It is not allowed to set any kind of fire there and if anyone caught with fairing activities, they fine 2500 Euro. In case a helicopter is needed, the costs can be up to 3000 Euro.
The national park is divided into 3 different zones, core zone, buffer zone and transition zone. In the transition zone, the forest is planted but it is managed in such a way it turns into a natural forest. The park is surrounded by farmland, which is the so-called transition zone; therefore, the park has a strong influence on them. There are as well restaurant business or souvenir shops based on the tourist activities of the park. It indicates that there is a large potentiality of entrepreneurship.
Sächsische Schweiz national park is an ideal example to follow, the way they manage to conserve the natural resources and deal with their key stakeholders. It is also one of the most wonderful tourist destinations; I have ever visited in Germany.
We appreciate we were able to participate in this excursion. It allowed us learning in deep about the management activities of the park. Although there were many restrictions due to COVID, the aim of the excursion became successful.
By: Pooja Debnath and Anisha Puri