Case Study – Germany

Upper Rhine valley, Germany

For this case study, our main focus is to study how we can increase the resilience of forests through adapted silvicultural strategies in a Central European region, which is undergoing rapid changes in climatic conditions and disturbance regimes. The potential increase of the resilience should be expressed as an increase of the insurance value of the forest ecosystems against disturbances – compared to a business-as-usual management within a nature – based solution approach. 

Quick overview

Area: 370,000 ha 

Value chain: Small scale wood industry

Biogeografical area: Continental 

Species composition

In short

Case Study - Upper Rhine valley, Germany






Ecosystem Services

Wood & biomass production


Outdoor recreation

Biodiversity conservation

Case study Q&A

How does the value chain look like: supply, demand, timber market?
The value chains are organized along small- to mid-sized mostly public forest owners (municipalities/communities) on the supply side with limited market power. On the demand side there are smaller sawmills for deciduous species and medium-sized to large sawmills for conifers, but mostly specialized on spruce/fir assortments (and rather smaller units for pine). Additionally, there is a cross-border aspect of the value chain with an important part of the timber being exported from the region to France. The market is characterized by an increasing shortage of the resource with the highest demand for small to medium-sized spruce logs and a low demand for most of the broadleaved species, except for some high quality assortments (i.e. oak for barrels). At the moment the market is severely disturbed by the two extreme years 2018 and 2019 that led to an extreme decrease of the timber prices and the cross-border value chains are interrupted due to Covid.  
What are the silvicultural measures applied – if any?
The main silvicultural activities take place within close-to-nature forestry with mostly single-tree to group-wise harvesting, avoiding clearcuts; however in the areas with forest decline (pine dieback), larger clearcuts areas occur due to salvage cuttings. A main silvicultural activity is replanting with alternative broadleaved species, which is a challenge, as many native species are not suitable anymore under changing climatic conditions. In broadleaved and conifer forests, intensive thinning is applied to increase vitality of individual trees and to shorten the production cycle until trees reach their target diameter. This reduces the height and age of trees at harvesting and thus several risks such as drought stress or windthrow. 
What is the amount of the wood harvested?
Within the German part of the study region, the last national forest inventory (2012) reported average yearly harvests of approximately 5 m3/ha/year. The largest share was pine, followed by beech, oak and other long-lived broadleaves. In the Alsace region, the average harvest between 2016-2020 was roughly 4 m3/ha/year. 

Case study partners

Albert Ludwig University Of Freiburg