Forestry work causes trouble

Andreas losch

anyone who drives through the forest with a large timber harvester inevitably causes damage. The machines, which weigh tons, leave their mark. When harvesters enter sensitive forest areas, problems arise.
In the weilersbach valley nature reserve between fabrikschleichach (municipality of rauhenebrach) and hundelshausen (schweinfurt district) there is a spawning biotope of the protected fire salamander. Here, a harvester and a forwarder were driven through by the state forestry company ebrach, causing considerable displeasure among conservationists.
And there was also criticism from the authorities: the higher nature conservation authority of the government of lower franconia in wurzburg described the intervention as "not in keeping with the protective character of the affected area". In the future, such measures are to be coordinated with the lower nature conservation authorities of the hassberge and schweinfurt counties (depending on their responsibility), and wurzburg is to be included if necessary. The forestry company ebrach, on the other hand, does not cheer his action, but justifies it and calls it "an absolute exception".

"Brutal timber harvesting

first things first: in a press release, the nordsteigerwald national park association sharply criticizes the ebrach forestry operation for "harvesting timber" a forest stream and a spawning biotope "massively damaged" has. The heavy machines were "driven over a distance of more than 100 meters in the creek bed of a tributary of the weilersbach and have crossed it several times", it says.
"The natural course of the stream in the area was destroyed by this brutal timber harvesting", criticizes adolf hummer, one of the chairmen of the national park association. "The crossings and the driving in the creek bed by the heavy forestry equipment probably not only killed quite a few fire salamander larvae directly, but also severely damaged the water quality of the entire creek course – also downstream – through suspended matter", he says.

Threat of bark beetle

ulrich mergner, head of the ebrach state forestry enterprise, rejects the accusations. At first, it was not a matter of ordinary logging measures at all. According to mergner, the action was intended to remove spruce trees from the forest that had fallen during a spring storm "and had to be processed because of the imminent danger of bark beetles".
The heavy machines in question were used because there is an unpredictable tension in the wood when trees are knocked down by storms, making manual work too dangerous. "The fact that it was driven over 100 meters in the creek bed is exaggerated", he explained further. And: the fact that spawning grounds were destroyed disproves the fact that "fire salamander larvae still live in the entire course of the stream".
According to mergner, there are more than 40 streams in the northern steigerwald near the springs where fire salamanders are found. The majority of these streams have already been taken out of forestry use by the forestry company. "In the criticized case this was not yet possible because of the still existing out of place spruces. Since all the spruces in the valley bottom have been removed in the meantime, there will be no need to drive on it in the future and the old back road will be abandoned."
The national park association sticks to its opinion and becomes clearer. "In its nature conservation concept, the forestry company promises a particularly sensitive approach to watercourses close to the source, whereby driving with heavy forestry machines is to be avoided", according to the press release. "This current brute force approach in a nature reserve shows once again that the assurances given by the forestry operation are nothing more than smoke and mirrors." the goal is to distract from "what it is really about: the state forest wants to primarily use the wood in the steigerwald and to do this, cut down thick trees on a large scale".

No agreement on protection

the higher nature conservation authority of the government of lower franconia does not assess the latter (economic) aspect in its statement on the incident, but basically agrees with the criticism of the national park association. "From the point of view of the nature conservation authorities, the forestry work carried out is not in harmony with the protective character of the area concerned and also contradicts individual provisions of the nature conservation area ordinance", the government of lower franconia announces. "The cutting of the creek also damaged a breeding and resting place of the fire salamander during the breeding season."
the "salvage of 17 windthrow spruce trees to contain a bark beetle infestation" carried out by the ebrach forestry operation in may 2018 therefore did not proceed in accordance with the rules. From the point of view of the higher nature conservation authority, "the main thing now is to make good the damage that has been done as soon as possible". From a technical point of view, "a cautious restoration of the stream course" is necessary required. The measures to be taken are to be discussed with fire salamander protection experts with the participation of the lower and higher nature conservation authorities in september 2018, and implemented according to the result.

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