Forests are among the most complex and at the same time also the most species-rich ecosystems on earth. Therefore, they are a key element for biodiversity conservation. Forests provide many ecosystem services – like wood as the natural purification of air and water as well as the provision of recreational areas. Preserving biodiversity is an important prerequisite for protecting these diverse forest ecosystem services. As Germany is one of the most densely forested countries in Europe, with 32% of its land area covered by forests, it is particularly important to understand how we can sustainably manage them.
Forest use has a long tradition in Germany. However, in the last two millennia, forests have been widely replaced by agricultural land and urban areas. Further, in the last centuries, the introduction of modern forest management led to an additional decline of many specialized species, which now often occur only in relict populations or are already extinct and recent studies indicate that there is also a current decline in forest species1. Studies on diversity and data from “forest inventories” demonstrate the high importance of, for example, tree species richness for key ecosystem services such as timber production, forest habitat diversity, and resilience against climate change2. Biodiversity is the basis for the provision of these ecosystem services, but can only be maintained by ecologically sustainable forest use.
Given the diverse demands on forests in Germany and the various opportunities and risks of different management strategies – from intensive forestry to largely untreated total reserves – it is important to be able to make evidence-based decisions. Therefore, the chapter group “Forest” of the project Faktencheck Artenvielfalt will compile the most important local, national and European knowledge on biodiversity loss in forests and its consequences.
1Seibold, S. et al. Arthropod decline in grasslands and forests is associated with landscape-level drivers. Nature 574, 671–674 (2019) https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1684-3
2van der Plas, F et al.Towards the development of general rules describing landscape heterogeneity–multifunctionality relationships. J. Appl. Ecol. 56, 168– 179 (2019) https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13260