Black Forest Topics of Discussion • The Black Forest in Summary • The Name • Plants and Vegetation • Food Web • Pre-historical Forest Uses • Historical Forest Uses • Commercial Aspects of the Forest • Non-commercial Uses • Disease and Pests of the Forest • Natural Disaster Damage • Watershed • Government and the Forest • Major Issue Effecting the Forest • Recommendations
The Black Forest in Summary • Location: sits in Baden-Wurttemberg in the southwestern region of Germany • Description: • A densely wooden mountain range with deep valleys and small lakes • Bordered by the Rhine valley and river to the west and south and the Neckar River to the east • Rectangular in shape: 160km long (99 miles) by 60 km wide (37 miles) • Highest peak is in Feldberg, Germany with an elevation of 1,493 meters (4,898 feet)
The Name • The German’s call the forest Schwarzwald which directly translated to black forest. • The origins of the name dates back to the Roman’s who called the forest Silva Nigra or Silva Carbonara which is Latin for black, dark, and murky forest. The Roman’s named the forest this because of how densely packed the tree where and how little light was able to penetrate the canopy and foliage.
Plants and Vegetation Black Forest predominately consists of a variety of Pine and Fir trees with some Spruce: Common Juniper, European Silver Fir, Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce, and Scot Pine The trees that make up the canopy are different throughout the forest due to the various elevation and soil changes of the mountain. CANOPY Due to the density of the forest there is not much of an understory or scrub layer. The trees that due exist in this layer are: Beech, Oak, Hazel, Larch, Elm, Lime, Acer, Alder, and other various Broad Leaf trees. UNDERSTORY There are a number of scrubs, ferns, and grass that grow in the shrub and herb layers. The valleys of the forests are used for grazing due to the quality of the grass. GROUND COVER
Food Web Eurasia Wolf are small in population but do roam the forest. There are a number of predator birds that live in the Black Forest such as the Kolkrabe (raven) and falcons. The Sperlingskauz(owl) eats all types of small ground animals such as mice, hedgehogs, and rabbits; they will also eat other birds too. Wild boar, such as Russian Boar, roam the forest feeding off plants, fruits, small animals, and birds. The European Wild Cat and the recent reintroduction of the Eurasian Lynx roam the forest. There are numerous birds that live in and around the forests such as rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. There are many small mammals and rodents such as mice and hedgehogs that roam the forest floor eating leaves and fruits. There is an endless supply of insects and the Lumbricusbadensis (giant earthworm) that is only found in the Black Forest. There is a large population of Red Tail Deer that primarily roam and graze the open land in the low lands The Western Capercaillie (Wood Grouse) is a rare bird that has been fighting extinction for years. It is a herbivore.
Pre-historical Forest Uses • The appeal of the forest in ancient times was how easily it was to defend; it was impenetrable to invaders. It was depressing and scary which warded out potential threats. • The forest provided an unlimited amount of trees for building shelters and buildings as well as an abundant amount of fuel for warmth during the harsh winters. • The forest has the largest concentration of thermal mineral springs anywhere in the world. The Romans used these springs for cleansing and relaxation, especially in the winter months. Thermal Spring Locations
Historical Forest Uses • A tremendous amount of logging and deforestation was conducted throughout the Black Forest between the late 1800 and the mid 1900’s without any re-forestation for building materials and fuel. • The appeal for Black Forest trees was due to how straight and tall the trees grew with little to no branches due to the density of the forest. • For many years the forest was also mined for silver, iron, copper, and lead ore. At one time there were ten working mines throughout the forest.
Commercial Aspects of the Forest • The Black Forest is well known for their many, one of a kind, hand made wooden carvings and crafts. They are most known for their world famous for the Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks. • Nearly all of their wooden crafts and clocks are carved from the locally found Linden (Lime) tree and are certified by the Black Forest Clock Association.
Non-Commercial Uses • The main industry revolves around tourism due to the many historical towns and villages. • There are more than 23,000 km (14,000 miles) of trails that cross-cross back and fourth throughout the forest. These trails, due to the beautiful scenery, attacked hikers, day walkers, and mountain bikers. • The Black Forest is birth place of skiing in central Europe. There are many ski resorts scattered throughout the forest region that attract both down hill and cross country skiers.
Disease and Pests of the Forest • Acid rain has effected the Black Forest since the 1960’s by destroying nearly 50% of the forest. Overall the trees are much smaller and weaker in the forest making them susceptible to disease and harsh winter conditions. • This is directly contributed to Germany’s high CO2 emissions output. Germany ranked 6th in the world in 2008 by emitting 786,660 MtCO2 due to their enormous industrial output throughout the region. • Due to the high acid region in the forest is why majority of the Black Forest is now Pine trees. Pine trees are known for their survival in acidic soil conditions.
Natural Disaster Damage • The Black Forest has had very little to no forest fire damage over the years. • The Black Forest has sustained massive amounts of damage from sever winter storms over the years. • Two of the biggest storms to impact the forest in recent years was Wiebke in the winter of 1990 and Lothar in December of 1999. • Winter storm Wiebke destroyed over 14 million cubic meters of timber but Winter Storm Lothar destroyed over 30 million cubic meters of timber. Much of the area that was damage in 1999 is still barren today. The damage has compounded the already weakened soil damage caused by acid rain.
Watershed • The annual average precipitation averages around 24.7 inches a year with majority of the rain during the late spring to early fall months. • The Black Forest is part of the continental divide between the Atlantic Ocean watershed in the west which is drained by the Rhine River, and the Black Sea watershed in the east which is drained by the Danube River. • There are six rivers that originate from the Black Forest: Danube, Enz, Kinzig, Murg, Neckar, and Rench. Rhine River Atlantic Ocean Watershed Drains to the Atlantic Ocean Black Forest Danube River Black Sea Watershed Drains to the Black Sea
Government and the Forest • In July 2008 German Parliament passed a new law to reduce carbon dioxide emissions due to the immense amount of carbon pollutants they were creating from unregulated industry and automobiles emissions; these where directly contributing to the wide spread damage to German forests and eco-systems. • Their goal is to double their dependence on renewable clean energy sources. In September 2010 German Parliament adopted long term target goals of cutting energy efficiency 20%, reducing emissions 40%, and increasing their dependence on solar and wind to 30% by 2020. • In 2010 Germany supplied 17% of its power using renewable energy with majority of it coming from wind and solar. Germany is among world leaders in wind and solar technology and usage today.
Major Issue Effecting the Forest The biggest issue effecting the Black Forest is the affects of acid rain. The forest is a fraction of what it was 50 years ago and continues to shrink. As you can see in the chart, the majority of German industry is in the southern part of the country which contributes significantly to the amount of pollution in the south. Even though German Parliament has finally passed a law to start reducing carbon emissions it is a phased approach that is spaced out over a period of years and even decades. To complicate matters further German corporations, especially the automobile industry, routinely hinder legislation that governs their use of energy and pollution output. To pile on to the amount of pollution in the south you must also factor in the large industrial zone of France that is immediately to the west of Germany, and the Black Forest, as well as the Alps to the south that acts like a barricade “holding in” the pollution by preventing it from dispersing quickly. The effects of the acid has not only damaged the trees but it has also reduced the population of many wild animal species native to Germany and the Black Forest due to reduced natural habitats, food, and shelter. The Black Forest has suffered so much damage over the years, and the acid levels in the soil are so high, that it makes it nearly impossible to rebuild the forest quickly. Until the pollution is completely under control it will continue to produce acid rain which will further degrade the forest, the soil, and the wild life.
Recommendations • German Parliament needs to tighten up the laws that regulate the amount of carbon dioxide emission output across the country. They have the research and statistics that clearly reflect the damage that the pollution is causing to not only the Black Forest but to all the forests throughout Germany and Europe. • The forest managers need to expand the forest; it used to be nearly ten times the size it is now and they need to nearly double it by planting new stands of trees to the north and east of the current forest. • The foresters need to start putting more money and effort into treating the high, barren grounds of the forests that have sustained the most acid damage. They could start introducing pulverized limestone to start to reduce the amount of pH leaves along with heavily seeding the areas with trees, like conifers, that have a high survival rate in acidic soil. • By expanding the forest it will help facilitate an natural increase to the native wildlife currently in the forest. It will also allow the foresters and Germans to re-introduce many of the trees, vegetation, and wildlife that has been extinct in the area, such as lynx, over the years. They have started to do this but they could increase their efforts.
References • Avro, Samuel. Why Solar Panels are Cheaper in Germany. Consumer Energy Report. 25 October 2012. Web. 7 December 2012. • “Black Forest (LHA) Weather, Germany Weather Averages. World Weather Online. Web. 10 December 2012. • Butler, Rhett. Germany-Forestry Agriculture. Mongabay.com. 2010. Web. 30 November 2012. • Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Black Forest. Encylopedia.com. 2012. Web. 3 December 2012. • Dempsey, Judy. Germany passes law aimed at reducing carbon emissions. The New York Times, Europe. 4 July 2008. Web. 1 December 2012. • Deyette, Jeff. On the Road to Clean Energy in Germany: Lessons for the United States-Part 1. Union of Concerned Scientists. 3 April 2012. Web. 7 December 2012. • Marcot, Bruce. Even-aged managed forest, Schwarzwald (Black Forest), Southwest Germany. EPOW-Ecology Picture of the Week. 19-25 February 2007. 29 November 2012.
References • PhiloPhaxInternet and Lauftext. www.blackforestinfo.com Information around the Black Forest in Germany. Web. 24 November 2012. • Rhoades, Heather. Fixing Your Soil When Soil Is Too Acidic. Gardening Know How. 2012. Web. 5 December 2012. • Schwarzwald Black Forest. 130 years of tourism in the Black Forest. SchwarzwaldTourismus GmbH. 2012. Web 28 November 2012. • “Thermal and mineral baths in the Black Forest.” Black-Forest-Travel.com. 26 November 2012. Web. 26 November 2012. • Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium. Acid Rain, Environmental Effects of Acid Rain. Our Changing Planet. 2006-2011. Web. 22 November 2012. • “What is Acid Rain?” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 4 December 2012. Web. 6 December 2012.