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A timber truck fully loaded with logs drives over a very simple wooden bridge in a forest.
© Thünen-Institut
A timber truck fully loaded with logs drives over a very simple wooden bridge in a forest.
Institute of

WF Forestry

Link to the Website - Waldbefragung (German)


KKEG: Small forests, big impact

© Philine Feil

Joint research project: Climate protection in small private forests – for owners and society (KKEG) Subproject 2: Developing offers for small private forests

Society makes diverse demands on the German forests: Traditionally the use timber is very important, but recently also the protection of climate and biodiversity is a focusThe small private forest has a great importance in fulfilling these demands: Nearly half of the forest area of Germany is private-owned and half of this area in turn is smaller than 20 hectares. That makes 24 % of the total area of German forests.

Nowadays, the plurality of owners' living conditions and forest management objectives has increased.. In small private forests, traditional forms of forest management are no longer predominant.  Nevertheless, the existing promotion, support and advisory services are predominantly aimed at traditional, raw timber production-oriented forest management if structural deficits are to be overcome. However, as shown by actual research studies, these offers do not reach the majority of forest owners anymore. At the same time, these studies recommend the development of new and broader offers to win the owners of small forests for the goals biodiversity and climate protection.

Background and Objective

So far, the attitudes of forest owners towards their forest property and to the various forest functions have been determined in numerous studies. But until now there is no systematic national research study about their forest management goals. However, this knowledge is essential for the development of new offers to improve timber production, climate change mitigation and nature protection in small private forests.

Therefore, our joint research project aims at identifying and analysing forest owners’ as well as societies’ objectives in regard to forests.. Based on these results, suggestions for improved offers to the private forest are being developed.

Target Group

Small private forest owners and decision-makers from politics, administration and industry


Based on research of national and international literature on private forest owners, we developed a survey for a telephone interview of persons with and without private forest property. Since there was a main interest in the willingness of german private forest owners to act, the model for explaining human decision-making by Pregernig (1999) served as the theoretical framework. The results of the survey serve the joint project partners for the further development of proposals for improved offers as well as for the development of new digital offers for the private forest

Data and Methods

The centre of our methodical approach is a nationwide representative telephone survey of around 1,200 individuals each with and without private forest ownership. The population for the survey was the German-speaking resident population aged 18 years and over. The survey included more than 70 questions for private forest owners and almost 40 questions for those without forest property. A central challenge in this survey was the accessibility of the "rare" target group of private forest owners for nationwide statements as well as the formulation of complex forestry questions into generally understandable questions for the population.

Our Research Questions

How many private forest owners exist in Germany and in which life situation are they?

What willingness of the private forest owners to act for different measures in the forest exists and what support do they receive from the rest of society?


With the survey, the number of private forest owners in Germany could be reliably assessed for the first time. The share of private forest owners in the population is 3%, or 1.82 million people. Through generational changes 65,000 people become new private forest owners each year. For forest policy this is an immense challenge.

In addition to numerous demographic information, the social milieus of the private forest owners in Germany could be determined for the first time. In the case of the Sinus Milieus, the German population is classified according to the two dimensions of social situation (lower to upper class) and basic orientation (traditional to reorientation) into ten social leading milieus. Half of the German private forest owners can be assigned to three upscale, traditional milieus and two thirds of the owners can be found in only four milieus. These insights into the milieus offer an explanatory approach, why some of the owners are no longer available for advice and support services with traditional, use-oriented messages. However, private forest owners do not fundamentally differ in their demographic characteristics from the rest of the society.

Furthermore, the implementation of forest management activities that the private forest owners have carried out in the past 10 years and the willingness to implement these measures in future were recorded. In addition, the rest of the society was asked if they are in favour of these forest management activities. The measures surveyed were forest management, forest conversion with deciduous trees, timber harvesting, preservation of habitat trees, introduction of alien tree species, set-aside areas for biodiversity, maintenance of forest roads and paths for recreationists, and restrictions on access for nature conservation. The results clarified that there are opportunities to engage additional private forest owners for forest management activities in their forest. It could also be shown that all of these measures are mostly approved by the rest of society. Except for planting of alien tree species, a broad acceptance of forest management activities in the population can be assumed.

While the German Federal Forest Law attaches great importance to forest owner associations in order to overcome structural deficits of small-scale private forest owners, only one third are members in these associations. In the context of membership in forest owner associations we could identify five owner groups: 12% uninformed and unwilling, 6% uninformed and willing, 35% informed and unwilling, 17% informed and willing and 29% members of forest owner associations.

Links and Downloads


Dr. Björn Seintsch

+49 40 739 62 312
+49 40 739 62 312

List of Publications

  1. 0

    Tendler E, Seintsch B, Koller N (2019) AK5: Kleinprivatwaldeigentümer verstehen und aktivieren. AFZ Der Wald 74(1):21-22

  2. 1

    Seintsch B, Neitzel C, Willert M von, Späth V (2018) Das KKEG-Verbundprojekt. AFZ Der Wald 73(5):10-11

  3. 2

    Hennig P (2018) Holznutzung im Kleinprivatwald. AFZ Der Wald 73(5):12-15

  4. 3

    Neitzel C (2018) Jährlich 65.000 neue Privatwaldeigentümer. Dt Waldbesitzer(3):11-12

  5. 4

    Neitzel C, Wachenfeld-Schell A (2018) KKEG-Projekt: Telefonbefragung. AFZ Der Wald 73(5):19-20

  6. 5

    Krott M, Neitzel C (2018) Moderner Kleinprivatwald - Eigentümer "first". AFZ Der Wald 73(5):21-23

  7. 6

    Feil P, Neitzel C, Seintsch B, Dieter M (2018) Privatwaldeigentümer in Deutschland: Ergebnisse einer bundesweiten Telefonbefragung von Personen mit und ohne Waldeigentum. Landbauforsch Appl Agric Forestry Res 68(3/4):87-130, DOI:10.3220/LBF1547703799000

  8. 7

    Feil P, Neitzel C, Seintsch B, Dieter M (2018) Privatwaldeigentümer und gesellschaftliche Ansprüche. AFZ Der Wald 73(5):24-27


    3.2015 - 6.2019

    More Information

    Project status: finished

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