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The last three summers have proven difficult for German forest owners – they have been dry, stormy, and resulted in bark beetle invasions that hit forests hard. Large areas had to be cleared to protect the health of remaining trees. Timber prices for the most affected tree species are low, and reforestation is costly. Due to this hardship, the German government decided to help forest owners in Germany with funds from the Corona subsidies. Private and communal forest owners with certified forests can apply for the fund. Holders of forest certificates will receive extra money per hectare, called an “area bonus”, depending on how rigorous the standards of their certifications are.
Due to this, forest owners who are certified according to the socially and ecologically responsible standards of FSC or Naturland will now get an area bonus of 120 Euro per hectare. According to the subsidy guideline published in the Federal Gazette on 20 November 2020, they’ll receive a 20 percent higher subsidy per hectare compared to forest owners who hold certificates with lower requirements. In comparison to less demanding certifications, FSC certification in Germany requires certificate holders to meet higher standards in regards to hunting, pesticides, logging trails, introduction and management of exotic and invasive species, erosion control, areas set aside for conservation, stakeholder engagement and more.
The Chairman of FSC Germany, Dirk Riestenpatt welcomes the decision of the German government. "The higher value of FSC or Naturland certification standards has now been officially confirmed. Those forest owners who have already voluntarily converted their operations to sustainable forestry will also receive a tangible financial recognition from the official side, and I invite all forest owners to seriously consider these standards for sustainable forestry."
Currently, only 12 percent of Germany's forest area has been certified in accordance with independent, controlled and demanding environmental and social standards such as those of FSC or Naturland. The area payment makes FSC certification economically more attractive both for the forest owners who previously had no forest management certificate, as well as those forest owners whose forest management certification is based on lower environmental and social standards.