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Anna Frerck
Institute of Forestry

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Perception of forests and forestry in Germany by the population: Journal article published


Forest politics and forestry in Germany observe increasing public demand for forest ecosystem services (FES).

Anteile der Befragten, die die genannten Begriffe für wichtig oder sehr wichtig halten. (Lebensraum, Luft u. Wasser, Klimaschutz, Landschaftsbild, Naturerleben, Rohstoff Holz, Schutz vor Naturgefahren, Einkommen u. Arbeit, Erholung, Waldnebenprodukte (von links nach rechts)) - Percentage of those respondents having rated the mentioned FES as important or very important (Habitat, Air and water, Climate protection, Natural scenery, Experience of nature, Wood as raw material, Protective functions, Income and employment, Recreation, Non-wood forest products (from left)) (© Martin Lorenz)

For this reason the German Federal Government with its “Forest Strategy 2020” strives for a sustained and – if possible – extended provision of FES. One of the basics for decision making in forest and environmental politics are the results of a representative population survey commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The answers of the 1.052 respondents were analyzed by the Institute for International Forestry and Forest Economics.

The 1.052 respondents rate mainly the ecological services (habitat, air and water provision, climate protection) as important or very important (see figure). Forest as typical landscape element and the experience of nature rank second, followed by the provision of wood as raw material and fuel. Lower than these rank the provision of recreation, income and employment. Multifunctional forestry in Germany – aimed at conservation or extension of FES – is considered sustainable by only one third of the respondents, and only half of the respondents considers it as partly sustainable. This discrepancy between high appreciation of FES on the one hand and doubts as to the sustainability of forestry on the other hand may be the result of fears of threats to the forests. Among these threats, greatest concern applies to deforestation. The use of wood stemming from sustainable forestry is considered beneficial for climate protection by half of the respondents, but only on third of the respondents agrees to the substitution of fossil raw materials by wood.

Nearly one third of the respondents visits the forest at least three times per month. The frequency of forest visits and the knowledge of forest and forestry issues is obviously decisive for the appreciation of FES and for the correct appraisal of forestry facts. None of the other characteristics of the respondents (e.g. gender, age, marital status, eduction, profession, income) is more decisive. Frequent forest visitors considering themselves as well informed on forest issues rate FES as more important than this holds true for the other respondents. Certain survey results reveal rather minor knowledge on forest issues. Actually, three quarters of the respondents consider themselves as little informed or not informed at all. Half of the respondents state that their information is based on their personal observations. This kind of selective information does obviously not suffice for an acquirement of basic understanding. A similarly high share of respondents quotes the media as a main source of information. The media, however, report preferably on grievances and seldom in a differentiated manner. A positive aspect is, however, that many respondents would like to learn more about forest and forestry issues.

Lorenz M, Elsasser P (2018) Ansichten und Einstellungen zu Wald und Forstwirtschaft in Deutschland. Allg. Forst- u. J.-Ztg., 189. Jg., ½, pages 1-15. DOI: 10.23765/afjz0002017