The old fir tree just stands there. About 35 meters high, with a trunk circumference of over four meters. A colossus when you look up directly in front of it. She inspires respect. The wind seems to brush reverently through the huge crown, the sun shines through the branches. The other treetops look up at it benevolently. A gentle whisper can be heard. Breathtaking, imposing, immense.
No wonder that this 300-year-old white fir is one of forester erich daum’s favorite trees. He likes to take children from kindergarten or school there on forest tours. Although there is a lot to admire in "his" forest forest. The area for which he is responsible, the "lower marrow", explains, covers an area of about 2000 hectares. The size corresponds to about 3500 soccer fields. But there are few fir trees, only about two to three percent are in the stand. Such old and large trees are a rarity. "The consequences of the great air pollution in the 60s and 70s and enormous pest infestation led to a great fir tree death in our country", explains daum.
That’s why the bavarian state forests have launched an action. The stock of white firs is to be increased through replanting. "Forest conversion towards the mixed forest is the magic formula. For tree species such as oak and beech, natural regeneration is the method of choice. A pragmatic remedy, because the forest renews itself. A pure spruce forest can be transformed into a mixed forest through selective thinning. However, as with lime trees and larches, the population of white pines is too small for sufficient seeds to sprout. Here you have to do it yourself.
In the case of the fir tree, this is particularly costly. The cylindrical cones, up to 16 centimeters long, stand upright on the branches and have to be "picked" from the trees become. Trained cone pickers perform this adventurous activity. In bindlach near bayreuth, the seed is processed and sown. After three to four years, the young plants can be planted.
In the forest area managed by erich daum, forester gerold schmidt is responsible for that. He has decades of experience and knows where to put the spade so that the tender little plants sprout. Now he is on the road every day with his special spade. 5,000 white fir plants will be planted this fall by the bavarian state forests in the "lower marrow" planting, because the taproots are important in the mixed forest. They are deeply anchored in the ground and can withstand even large storms, whereas the trees in a pure spruce forest would fall over like dominoes due to their shallow roots close to the ground. The project costs around 10,000 euros.
For forest conversion to succeed with the concept of natural regeneration and planting campaigns, however, the wildlife population must also be controlled. "Browsing in an overgrown deer stand is immense. That’s why it’s essential to hunt", the forester explains. Of course, protective fences could also be erected, but he sees this as impractical and simply too cost-intensive. He advocates a compatible wildlife population in the forest. "The district administration has just increased the number of deer that can be shot", he sees his ambition confirmed. The recently completed scientific studies of the tree population in his area also confirm that he is doing a good job. Every year, he plants between four and five hectares of new crops. An investment in the future and for future generations.
"Maybe in a few hundred years, children will once again enjoy the fir trees planted today", the 54-year-old muses while gazing devoutly into the treetop at his favorite fir tree. If only to be able to understand the meaning of the last stanza of the song of upper franconia: "you return once again and seek your youth, sing songs with joy, because you never regret that the firs sang you a lullaby, your love of home remained in your heart."