German forest suffers under negative impacts of climate change. Draught and extremely high-temperature periods in the last years followed by enormous insect infection lead to a loss of hundreds of thousands of hectares of productive forests. In line with the ongoing discussion about the situation of dying forests, German private forest landowners have launched the “8” initiative in order to sensitize society about the natural carbon sequestration of forests.
As trees grow, the photosynthesis process naturally takes out of the atmosphere carbon dioxide and sequesters carbon in wood material, and releases oxygen. Oxygen is one of the vital elements for life on earth. It is officially scientifically proven that German forest absorbs on average 8 tonnes per hectare and year and stores 2 tonnes of the absorbed carbon in wood material as so-called primary storage. This fact is of eminent benefit to society and must be widely acknowledged.
Thus forest landowners are setting up an orange man-high wooden “8” at highly frequented recreational places in their forests. Also, this action should be underlined by publishing articles about the ecosystem services of forests in regional newspapers as well as producing video clips posted on social media.
In addition politicians and citizens are invited to forest field trips by private forest landowners explaining the multi-functionality of sustainable forest management. All these actions are part of the German widespread campaign promoting working forestry. The importance of knowledge transfer to society bases on the clear distinction of the effectiveness of carbon sequestration by working forests versus forests being taken out of production. Credible studies show that a working forest sequester more carbon per hectare and year than a set-aside forest. In the long run, these forests show a balance of increment and decaying. In a working forest trees will be constantly harvested in different age stages and processed into wood products. Harvested wood products substitute fossil energy-intensive materials like steel, concrete, or bricks and also burning fossil energy. And carbon will be stored as long as the wood product is in use. This is called secondary storage. Simultaneously a new tree with higher growth replaces the harvested mature trees.
Thus working forests deliver a significantly higher benefit to mitigate climate. This fact needs to be communicated to society and politicians.