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Experts handle conflicts between economic and ecological interests differently in forestry and nature conservation

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How can you harvest wood and at the same time promote biodiversity in the forest? A team led by the political scientist Tobias Schulz and forest scientist Frank Krumm compared, together with researchers from Germany, how experts in forestry and experts in nature conservation deal with this conflict. On two days, twelve participants from each group were invited to visit a Marteloscope in an oak forest. This is a training area where all the trees and their characteristics are recorded and mapped. The participants had to weigh up economic and ecological considerations, and select not only a certain amount of valuable timber for harvesting but also ten habitat trees. Hab­itat trees are trees that should be preserved because they have special structures, such as hollows and cracks, that provide habitats for many animal species.

 

Nature conservation experts mostly selected only large old oaks as hab­itat trees, while foresters also se­lected younger hornbeams with a lower ecological value. Large oaks are economically valuable and were mark­ed for harvesting by the foresters, but by hardly any conservationists. The foresters behaved more uniformly when weighing up economic and ecological aspects than the conservationists as all they chose trees without much economic value as hab­itat trees.

Essential factors such as occupational safety or time pressure were not surveyed in this study. Further Marteloscope exercises will show the influence of these factors on how
experts weigh up economic and ecological priorities.
(Lisa Bose, Diagonal 2/19)