Biodiversity and carbon storage along a forestry intensity gradient
  • Forest in Winter
    © Max Fornfeist


    Forests are important carbon sinks in times of climate change. Significant amounts of carbon are stored in wood and soil organic matter.
    It is therefore of great importance to consider the function of forests not only as habitats but also as carbon sinks in future management decisions. Sustainable and near-natural forest management plays a central role in maintaining forest ecosystem functioning.
    The aim of the project is a synoptic view of the carbon balance and biodiversity - above and below ground - in order to correctly assess the various functions of forests and to prevent unsustainable developments. Our project will help to better assess the performance of forests in terms of forestry intensity, biodiversity and carbon storage.

  • Soil sampling
    © Ute Hamer


  • Figure of forestry intensity gradient
    © Theresa Klein-Raufhake


    Our project involves the four most common forest types of Germany:
    1) Beech forests on acidic soils (study area: Arnsberger Wald)
    2) Beech forests on nutrient-rich soils (study area: Egge foothills)
    3) Oak and hornbeam forests on wet-dry soils (study area: Münsterland)
    4) Mixed oak forests on acidic soils (study area: Lower Rhine)
    50 study plots will be established in all four study areas. The following parameters will be sampled on all 200 plots:

    • above-ground carbon stores
    • below-ground carbon stores
    • microhabitats
    • forest development phases
    • biomass (living / dead wood)
    • soil data (soil profile, soil organic matter, soil microbiology)
    • below-ground biodiversity (earthworms, springtails)
    • above-ground biodiversity (breeding birds, beetles, lichen and mosses, vegetation)
    Study sites
    © Theresa Klein-Raufhake

    Another part of the project is to investigate the effects of logging trails. Heavy harvesting machines cause soil compaction, and therefore lead to changes in soil structure and chemistry. Those changes may affect microbiological activities with consequences for soil fertility, degradation processes and humification.
    We will investigate logging trails in all study areas, and collect data on soil physical, chemical and microbiological properties.

    We further aim to examine the influence of tillage measures. Little is known about how the large-scale use of forest mulchers or forest milling machines in clear-cut or calamity areas affects carbon storages and nutrient cycling as well as the biodiversity of forest soils. Since the tillage measures are now almost exclusively carried out in private forests, these investigations will focus on 10 locations in the oak and hornbeam forests of the Münsterland.

    Logging trail
    © Ute Hamer
  • Excursion participants in the forest
    © Ute Hamer


    This project is a collaboration between the nature-conservation NGO NABU Naturschutzstation Münsterland, the state forestry company Wald und Holz Nordrhein-Westfalen and the Institute of Landscape Ecology (ILÖK) at Münster University. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety with funds from the Forest Climate Fund (“Waldklimafonds”).
    The project partners have already implemented a joint project from 2014-2018 in the framework of the forest climate fund: “Fit für den Klimawandel“

    Logo bmel/bmu
    © bmel/bmu
    Logo LbWuH
    © Waldklimafonds
    Logo Waldklimafonds
    © Waldklimafonds
    Logo NABU Naturschutzstation Münsterland
    © WWU
    Logo ILÖK
    © ILÖK
    Logo WWU
    © WWU
  • Publications

    • Elmer, M., Bieker, D., Greiving, K., Tecker, A., Brinkert, A., Hölzel, N. & Linnemann, B. (2018): Monitoring und Begleitforschung von Feuchtwäldern. AFZ-DerWald Nr. 2/2018: 19-21.
    • Greiving, K., Brinkert, A., Wertebach, T.-M., Elmer, M., Bieker, D., Linnemann, B. & Hölzel, N. (2018): Kohlenstoffvorräte in Feuchtwäldern der Westfälischen Tiefebene. AFZ-DerWald Nr. 2/2018: 22-24.
    • Linnemann, B., Elmer, M., Tecker, A., Greving, K., Bieker, D., Hochhäuser, H.-P., Wälter, T., Wertebach, T.-M. & Hölzel, N. (2018): Fit für den Klimawandel – Anpassung von Feuchtwäldern an den Klimawandel. Natur und Landschaft 93: 562-568
    Nature forest cell
    © Ute Hamer