The steckerles forest is changing

The steckerles forest is changing

Luck has many faces. In this case, it turns the corner with a small landing wagon and trailer. Out climbs an old man in a blue shirt with the imprint "bayerische staatsforsten". He was loading leftover vegetables and potatoes. You must be for the deer behind the fence where we have been standing for just five minutes.
Here in the neunhofer forest, directly on the district road to kalchreuth (district of erlangen-hochstadt), the state forestry operates a game preserve. The arrow struck close by, in the middle of the northern part of the nurnberg reichswald forest. A good kilometer away is the A-3 rest stop "weiber graben", the airport is three and a half kilometers away as the crow flies. All forest in between.
So this time a forest story. After all, the four-hectare open-air enclosure is not an everyday occurrence. It has existed for about 40 years. At first, red deer and fallow deer were mixed here; since 2012, only the more peaceful fallow deer have been grazed.
The view goes from the observation pulpit over to five deer, which, lying on the ground about 100 meters from here, are not disturbed by anything. Boredom on a friday morning. One could also say: forest idyll. But nothing for a reporter looking for a special forest story.

70 percent pine

"I am the forster", says the man with the blue shirt. If there’s anyone who can tell you something about this patch of french soil and about the forest in general, it’s him: hubertus hadwiger, who for nine years has been the district manager in the neunhofer forest, a part of the roughly 40,000-hectare reichswald forest. In his life as a forester, the 61-year-old has been around a lot. The native of bamberger was among other things responsible for forchheim-reuth. Here, in this place, he comes only once a day "sometime, depending on when the container is filled with leftovers". Today it came at just the right moment. Luck!
According to hadwiger, the enclosure owned by the state of bavaria serves not so much as a game preserve, but rather as a local recreational attraction in the nurnberg area. If you want to relax in the reichswald, you are in good hands with the gravelled path network. The forest, whose name is derived not from the third reich but from the free imperial city of nurnberg, only shows its charms on closer inspection.

No more stray animals

70 percent pines, 20 percent spruces and the remaining ten percent deciduous forest: the conifer monoculture has given this forest in central franconia a special name – steckerles forest. "But it has already lost this character", says hadwiger. Reconstruction began in the mid-1970s. "When young, we already have 50 percent hardwoods."
For 60 years, according to hadwiger, there is also no more stray use by the population. People used to gather fallen leaves, needles and twigs and use them as bedding in the stables. The forest was deprived of nutrients for centuries and the soil was depleted.
Remnants of the forest should remain so, on sites poor in water with sand downs and lichens. Antlowe, garlic scabious and yellow-bellied toad like to live here. "The interesting thing about the reichswald is its mosaic character with sites near and far from groundwater. Three meter high difference is often enough", says hadwiger.

From heath to blackberry

And the forest ranger explains with a simple example how to quickly find out the soil conditions. Where heath grows, the soil is extremely poor in nutrients. If it becomes more nutritious, cranberries will grow first, then blueberries, and on rich soil raspberries and blackberries.
The ammunition danger in a part of the forest is food-independent. Since 1882, a 3,000-hectare area has been used as a troop feeding ground – from the kingdom of bavaria to the americans. "It happens again and again that wild boars owl blindgangers", tells hadwiger. A heavy burden for the otherwise peaceful recreation area.


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