The forest and the trees

According to the FAO, about 4 billion hectares of the earth are covered by forest, which is almost 1/3 of the land area. 90 billion trees, that is more than 1,000 trees per inhabitant, are currently found in Germany.

Forest distribution of the earth 2006 according to FAO

The timeline illustrates how long plants and trees have been on the planet compared to humans and mammalian ancestors.

Timeline Plants, Trees, Man

Their history, millions of years old, shows that they are true survivors and have specialised perfectly in their surroundings. They are adaptable and have been able to survive in times that have been far more extreme than, for example, today’s cities: ice ages, droughts, violent storms and storms, forest fires and the ubiquitous danger of fungi and pests.

Two main groups of trees have developed:

First conifers and much later deciduous trees

Deciduous trees have advantages wherever conifers have climatic or growth-related difficulties. Thanks to their later evolutionary origins, they have specialised further: in the first few years they grow much faster than conifers and thus win the battle for light. If a part or in some cases even the entire crown is lost, new shoots can immediately be formed and losses compensated. Only in forestry and in areas with short vegetation periods and little water supply have conifers been able to establish themselves in the long term, as they are evergreen and therefore less dependent on the seasons. (e.g. cold north, high mountain regions, dry Mediterranean regions). In general, mixed forests have been promoted for some time, as they are more natural and better for the ecosystem. This is evidenced by the steadily increasing distribution of deciduous forests in Germany, for example. Even if the face of the German forest is still mainly dominated by spruce and pine, hardwoods already account for 45% of the population.

ALH: Other deciduous woods, high-growing

ALN: Other hardwoods low-growing

Tree species in the German Forest (2014)

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