Experiences in the Management of Urban Recreational Forests in Germany
Managing forests often entails sustaining an ecosystem to meet different cultural expectations. These expectations or objectives can be determined by the site, by the owner, or by society. The production of timber for income generation is usually an important objective, one that can readily be quantified. At the same time, a forest provides other benefits that cannot be quantified as easily. These include such forest functions as microclimate amelioration, protection of water and soil resources, air pollutant filtration, and noise reduction. In a densely populated country forests provide a refuge for many endangered species that cannot survive in an urban or agriculturally dominated landscapes. Forests in rural areas are primarily managed for timber and ecological protection functions. However, because of their aesthetic appeal and contrast with city hardscapes, forests have become the most important areas for public recreation in the crowded areas of Central Europe. Consequently, management goals for forests depend on their geographic location.
While objective and scientific criteria can be used to manage a forest for timber production and for ecological protection, the recreation value of a forest is determined by subjective criteria like beauty, diversity, and emotional demand. Criteria must also be found for distinguishing forest management goals from management of public gardens or wooded parks. Parks differ from forests in their natural stocking and management, whereas management for timber will always be included as goals for urban forests. A park, however, is a landscaper’s creation, and serves to satisfy aesthetic and emotional goals. Therefore, natural successional forces are not determinants of species composition in a wooded park, as they would be in a forest, due to continual human intervention in keeping plant communities in the same condition.
KeywordsUrban Forest Political Decision Maker Forest Fringe Public Garden Recreation Forest
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