Greepeance Team Spessart Forest (Photo Credit Luis Scheuermann,Greenpeace Germany)In the heart of Heigenbrücken, a small German village in the province of Bavaria, a group of twenty motivated and enthusiastic people were getting ready to confront autumn in the Spessart forest in pursuit of one common goal: Stop the destruction of old-growth forest and increase the amount of protected areas. Beech forests represent an ecosystem rich in biodiversity with up to 6000 animal species and play a vital role for the climate too, as they store carbon for many centuries. Withstanding ever-changing weather, tents pitched on the ground and creating a family atmosphere at dinner time and gatherings, Greenpeace Germany marked its presence and established a rustic style camp. The team was formed of mapping experts, campaigners, activists and international volunteers coming from all corners of the globe including Finland, Russia, Brazil and Canada (myself). Everyone worked efficiently and intensively, providing hope for the future of public forests.

The goal of this 3rd camp was to create a map of beech dominated forest representing the priority protection zones. This campaign  was targeted at the provincial government who provides a playground to the logging industry and refuses to divulge information to its citizens concerning exploitations projects. Greenpeace is calling on the government to establish a logging moratoria for the beech dominated forests older than 140 years until 10 percent of the state owned forests are protected. The map also demonstrated areas of artificial forests replanted for commercial purposes. It consisted of Douglas trees, a non-native and invasive species which threaten the survival of beech trees.

Spessart Action (Photo credit Greenpeace Germany)Motivated, energized and all geared up, I participated in the inventory which required me to measure the diameter of the trees and record them in the database system. During a 3 week period, we achieved a great amount of work over a large territory. The results: 13 000 trees recorded (for the most part beeches, oaks and pines over 140 years old) and the discovery of zones targeted by Bayerische Staatsforsten, thestate owned logging company. In order to raise further awareness on the issue and to expose political inaction, activists installed hundred of posters on the marked trees showing a « no cutting » sign. Destructive practices in this area are currently under high surveillance by Greenpeace. Continued pressure in ongoing through press releases, letters sent to the government and an official report concerning the protection of the Spessart. In response to the urgency of the situation, an additional action camp was launched, this time in a different region of Germany. We cannot give up!

Melanie (Photo credit Klaus Cook,Greenpeace Germany)It was very fulfilling but especially inspiring to have lived this experience as it allowed me to realize the extent to which forest issues concern people all around the world. After closely observing the fascinating biodiversity and hiking many kilometers within this decor of golden colored leaves, I’ve come to realize that we have so much to learn from ancient forests and how they contribute to all life on earth. We are fortunate in Canada considering that intact forests still remain; this is not the case in Germany. The forests of tomorrow are threatened. It is most important to demand their protection before it is too late. All together let’s educate our children, get closer to nature and take back what belongs to us!