............THE FOREST






“A Visit to the Black Forest”

"What you Canadians call a
sustained yield has been normal for at least 500 years here.”
....With those woodsy words spinning about my head I thought back on my recent visit to the Black Forest of West Germany. Such meaningful words were spoken to me by my friend Wolfram von Rotenhan, a senior forester in the western part of that impeccably con-trolled forest.
....It was early May and my traveling companions and I had just partaken of a fine home cooked German lunch, served up by my host’s charming wife, Heidi. “It is time,” Wolfram said, “to be off to the forest.” A trip I had looked forward to for 13 years.
....Let’s go back – to 1968 when our B.C.C. Festival of Forestry group had been formed for a couple of years. We were bringing senior forestry students to B.C. from all over the world. Our tours were two weeks in length and covered all the exciting parts of our forests and forest industry.
....That summer of 1968 had seen about twenty five such senior forestry graduates come from Scandinavia, the British Isles, Central and Northern Europe and from the U.S.A. Wolfram was the West German delegate, and it was when we first discussed the intriguing Black Forest.
....Our Festival of Forestry budgets were healthy then and no effort was spared to enlighten our visitors on the forestry picture of B.C. I may say that those tours have given results. Some top notch students returned to B.C. for further studies and eventual work here. Others returned to their own countries and wrote papers and gave talks on our forests and products, to hundreds of interested listeners.
....About six years ago Wolfram returned to B.C. with his bride and


again we had the opportunity to continue our talks about his forest.
....One does not have to be able to say those incredible Latin words for trees – like good chap forester Gerry Burch and his fine colleagues bespeak – to be excited about the chance to visit the well groomed forests of West Ger-many. As stated at the beginning, they really have been practicing sustained yield for five hundred years – and they are very proud of it – and show results.
....First a few facts. Norway spruce ac-counts for about sixty percent of Ger-many’s species – while fir is about twenty five percent – with beech and sycamore filling in the balance. There are about seven million hectares of forest land in the country, being about one third of Germany’s area.
....One cannot help notice the full use land has been put to over so many centuries. The Rhine Valley is hill to hill farms, and as noted, in late April the first crops were coming up.
....West Germany produces about twenty seven million cubic meters of wood product per year. This is just less than half her yearly requirements, meaning that she must import about the equivalent of thirty million cubic meters of product. Russia supplies about a third of this and the rest comes from Scandinavia and North America.
....It was interesting to note Wolfram’s words that “Russia sets the price, as they keep their price just below the Scans in order to hold the market.” He did state that they problems with the Russian quality control of lumber from time to time. C.O.F.I. please note!
....There were many surprises in store for this inlet logger, one being the viewing of B.C. Douglas fir trees about one hundred and twenty five years old. One has to think of some intrepid German forester arriving on the shores of British Columbia in 1850 and gathering up Douglas fir seeds and re-


turning with them – by way of Cape Horn – to plant them in the forests of Germany. Some of those old time foresters were pretty far sighted!
....My German forester was very proud of the big Douglas firs and when asked if they would ever be cut he answered as an Egyptian would if I suggested the pyramids be leveled.
....Wolfram’s home is in a pictur-esque, old town of Balingen, just outside the true Black Forest. In our talks, it was brought home to me the closeness of the world now, when he said, “Oh yes, Bill, if you go over to our town’s lumber yard you can buy Canfor’s fibreboard.”
....We walked through a well wooded area in the late afternoon and I noted the quality of the roads. They were well laid out, well ditched and cul-verted and well graded. Made from a limestone, he estimated their cost at $50 American per meter. Those roads would carry log loads of forty tons, and were built by the government through crown land and private holdings.
....We tried to find an equivalent title in Canadian forestry for Wolfram’s job and finally settled on something like government consultant of forest affairs for the province of Baden Wurttenberg. He oversees an area of 8,000 hectares and has eight foresters under him to supervise the area.
....His job entails all things to do with the forests in that province. He issues cutting permits to both crown and private forest holders. He issues permits and conducts auctions for the gathering of firewood. He also issues hunting licenses for the forest areas. He oversees the private seed orchards in the province to see that their product is of good quality.
....His duties can also include arrang-ing the sale of trees from crown or private land to mills in the area. He is


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responsible for reforestation in the area.
....In regard to reforestation the rules are simple and strict. Planting will immediately follow harvesting on crown or private land. If the private landowner does not plant in a specified time, the Forest Service will plant the area and bill him. They mean business in West Germany when they talk of reforestation. We could take a few lessons.
....It seems that all business of the forest is handled by a single department over there. A bit unlike our rather confusing system of having the Provincial Government look after Forest Service – as separated from Fish and Wildlife – and then have the Federal Government oversee the streams in the forest area. Must remember to have all that changed one day!
....However, great responsibilities are as a forester in Germany, with the respon-sibility comes pride of work and a heritage of hundreds of years of good forest practices.
....I found one particular item of interest in the ownership of forests in Germany. That was the “towel” system of private ownership. As was explained to me, the “towel” is simply an expression of size to denote a small wooded area of tree growth, each less than one hectare. There are over 6,000 such private holdings in Germany.
....Only trees may be grown on such lands and they are supervised by the Forest Service. The encouragement of everyone participating in forest growth can only lead to great interest and pride in the forests by the public. How we could use this system to get our public’s interest!
....The damage done to young trees by deer is quite bothersome and the Forest Service take it upon themselves to fence off such areas – even the “towel” areas – to give the young trees a chance to gain height.
....I asked Wolfram to put a price on an average “towel” area as we walked along a logging road. The area concerned had spruce and fir and a bit of beech in it and was certainly not the best we had seen. For this less than a hectare “towel” site he estimated it would cost a prospective buyer about $5,000 American.
....In reflecting on my all to brief visit to the Black Forest, I was struck first by the various kinds of revenue the forest generated in the economy of the country. It was also very apparent that a good portion of that revenue was returned to the various areas in the form of roads and supervision of forests, for not just the forest owners or licencees, but for hunters, fishermen, hikers and citizenry.


....The singular authority of the head foresters in the various forested areas was refreshing after the nonsense we are going through out here in British Columbia. We have too many cooks! I wonder if and when we have been under sustained yield for five hundred years we can look forward to the singular authority?
....No doubt the costs are high in West Germany’s forests, but then the quality of wood is high also. After chewing away at those forests under sustained yield for 500 years, one must applaud the results of forest and forestry that is shown today.
....If only we here in Canada had a crystal ball into the next few hundred years. Two things are certain. We’d better get on with our reforestation or there will be no proper sustained yield. And we’d better start using more of those forestry generated tax dollars for research and forestry education.


....We who sit here with still a huge size of prime forest that has never cost us a cent to plant should realize the advantage we hold over places like West Germany’s Black Forest. But it seems we may blow away that advantage if we don’t learn how to properly use that advantage.
....It was a very interesting trip to the Black Forest and I am sure that my charming travel friend – Burke of the world – can arrange it all for you if you wish.
....The Black Forest – it’s not just a delight – it’s a piece of cake!....

Now remember Herr Wolfram,
Keep out of der bight

Bill Moore