This is how animals damage trees in the Northeast

Blankenhagen.The forest floor in the Willershäger Forest near Blankenhagen (Rostock region) is completely dry. It cracks and cracks with every step. Graduate forest engineer Andreas Simrau carefully looks at the trunk of a 40-year-old spruce on a warm May afternoon. Indicates a period of great and deep rest. Red deer peel the bark here long ago, almost any part of it. The place is overgrown. “Red rot can quickly form behind it. As a result, the tree loses stability. Among other things, it becomes more susceptible to wind damage,” explains the Real Estate, Hunting and Special Forestry Department clerk at the Forest Office in Bellinghagen.

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MV’s “Wildlife Watch” collects tens of thousands of data

Together with forestry resident Marlena Kallweit, Semrau is in one of the first controls follow-up “Wildlife Impact Monitoring” in the entire forest of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Thirteen reconnaissance teams have been in the northeast since March.

Graduate forest engineer Andreas Semrau (43) is studying a big vacation in a 40-year-old spruce in the Willershäger forest. Here the deer peeled from the bark long ago.

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They screened a total of 5,500 focal points, each covering an area of ​​40 square metres. The mentioned points were plotted across the country area in a one kilometer grid. This applies to state, municipal and private forests”, explains the project manager from Waldservice- und Energie GmbH in Mühl Rosin (Rostock region). The latter belongs to the state forest.

Specifically, tens of thousands of data collected – an accurate assessment will be available in September – shows the effect of roe deer, red deer and fallow deer on tree populations in the Northeast. In particular, areas where excessive wild populations may impede natural forest regeneration should be clarified.

That’s why the Marilena Kallweit team is looking for trails left by roebones, for example. These include the so-called browsing buds, buds and leaves of seedlings. “These juicy cuttings have a special taste for animals,” explains the forester. Close to a damaged spruce, she points to a five-year-old pine that no longer has a main branch. Thus the latter is prevented in its rise.

Deer love the buds and leaves of trees.

Deer love the shoots and leaves of trees.

Roe deer rub against the trunks – trees lack bark

Fege – now it’s Fege’s time – leaves visible traces. By the latter, Greencoats understand rubbing robux with their horns on their stumps. It also leaves odor marks. As a result, entire parts of the bark are sometimes missing. Forest owners have to assess for themselves whether this is harmful or not. It depends on your goals in forest management,” says the specialist.

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This five year old dead pine shows what are called brush marks.  The roebuck rubs its horns here.

This five year old dead pine shows what are called brush marks. Male stag rubbed its horns here.

This also applies to the extensive transverse peeling of the bark by red deer and deer. The truth is that the long-term consequences of tree growth are sometimes serious. “This is not about short periods of time. Instead, you have to assess forest management over several decades,” says Semrau.

The head of the Forestry Office, Dr. Bernhard von Finkenstein. One can live well with the current damage of the game, as the population is well organized.

The Forestry Department invests up to 15,000 euros per hectare to protect the trees

However, this requires constant examinations. That’s why a national survey is useful, says von Finckenstein. Especially since protecting young tree plantations is labor intensive and expensive. His forestry office, which supplies about 20 hectares of small crops – not least oak trees – with protective fences every year, invests between 10,000 and 15,000 euros per hectare.

“The construction and maintenance of wild fences, especially for young deciduous trees, is worth €1.12 million in the state forest alone,” explains Manfred Bohm, head of the State Forestry Institute. Therefore, he sees a total of €330,000 for the future annual realization as “well invested money”.

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Forests cover 24 percent of the country

The MV’s forest area covers a total of 558,000 hectares – about 24 percent of the state’s area.

Of these, 41 percent are state forests, 41 percent are private forests and 10 percent are corporate forests – this belongs to municipalities and cities, for example. In addition, there is a seven percent federal forest and one percent confidence forest. The latter is a forest expropriated in the course of agrarian reform in the GDR and transferred to public ownership, which was handed over to Treuhandanstalt.

There are about 45,000 forest owners in the Northeast.

Deciduous and coniferous forests account for 50 percent of all native forest. Major tree species include pine (38 percent), beech (12 percent) and oak (10 percent).

In the entire MV forest, efforts to protect trees from excessive browsing by wild animals should amount to between two and three million euros annually, explains Manfred Bohm, head of the state forest. He explains, “The extreme weather events of the past few years in particular have caused massive damage to the forest. In order to ensure the forest’s function in a more sustainable way, its natural capacity for regeneration must be further enhanced.”

The starting point is a consolidated database, which is also claimed by nearly 45,000 private forest owners in the Northeast. Not least due to the increasing number of extreme weather conditions, the diversity of tree species is important. “The natural regeneration of the forest plays a major role here,” says Baum. However, this is rare if the density of wild animals is very high.

Forest experts: ‘Accurately recording teams’

At the starting point NO111 in the Willershäger Forest – the data is provided by her GPS – Marilena Kallweit records the surrounding trees and shrubs. With the help of a caliper, she measures, among other things, the diameter of an 80-year-old beech tree.

Marilena Kallweit and Andreas Semrau examine browsing damage caused by roes on a three- to four-year-old common ash tree.

Marilena Kallweit and Andreas Semrau examine browsing damage caused by roes on a three- to four-year-old common ash tree.

The two experts, who are also experienced fishermen, record, among other things, the browsing of a three- to four-year-old ash tree in the log. The person in charge of the project appears satisfied and sums it up: “Follow-up check shows that the recording teams worked accurately.”

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The forester manages about a dozen focal points in a total of 29 forests and two national park offices in the state each day. Reviews must be completed by the end of May. Then it’s time for a demanding assessment. Hunters, foresters and forest owners in the Northeast should receive good data basis for their future work.

by volker bean

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