Forest for All

The healing effect that people have felt in nature since ancient times is becoming increasingly better understood scientifically. Hildegard von Bingen called it “green power,” the essence of everything that makes forests and meadows grow and germinate. Through scents, sounds, lights, and nutrients in the soil, trees communicate with each other and thus affect all bodies around them, including humans. Invisible plant substances strengthen the immune system, and immersing oneself in the atmosphere of the forest calms the heartbeat and breathing to the same extent as the ocean.

Germany is woodland. The forests are sacred to us. Even the name “Bochum” is said to derive from “beeches,” which once thrived magnificently in our city. From the Alps to the coast of the North Sea, our trees leaf the sky, giving us air and life to the animals. Every tree is a small biotope. It offers shelter, food, and habitat to different creatures on each floor. Lichens settle on its rugged bark, moss thrives on the roots, which in turn are food and habitat for countless life forms.

The German oak surpasses many other trees in age, size, and biodiversity. In one study, 175 lichen species were counted on a single sessile oak, a tenth of the entire lichen flora of Central Europe. Its nutritious fruits attract all kinds of animals, including deer, wild boars, squirrels, and jays. Especially the jay acts as a “feathered forester” and buries countless acorns in the ground as a winter supply, of which it will only find about two-thirds again – or does it want to? Thus promoting the spread of its beloved oak.

The association “Gemeinsam schöner leben” promotes the reforestation of German forests into primeval forests. True primeval forest only exists in Germany in national parks, which make up just 1.9 percent of the forest area. To ensure biodiversity, the German primeval forest must be resurrected in domestic forests. Exciting scientific questions need to be clarified for this! For example, while there are about ten cubic meters of dead wood per hectare of commercial forest, in the German primeval forest, there are 140 cubic meters. So, how much dead wood is needed to be economically and ecologically viable?

To those who look closely, the answer is already apparent: dead wood is very much alive. Decaying trunks provide a home to countless maggots, fungi, and beetles. Just because these haven’t been tapped into as food for us humans (yet), these habitats are not meaningless. On the contrary! Nature may have taught us by now that in the small, the power of the great is hidden. Until the very end, in the almost humus-like giant trees, sorrel, mosses, fungi thrive, and beetles live. Death is full of life! An almost spiritual experience in the presence of the forest.

In 2007, the German government adopted a “National Strategy on Biological Diversity.” All federal states agreed to let about ten percent of public forests return to wilderness by 2020. However, half of the forests are privately owned and thus commercial forests. Our association purchases private forests and thus promotes the implementation of biological diversity in our forests.

Unfortunately, species-poor monocultures – just like in agriculture – are more profitable. But not more productive! In terms of the produced biomass, the total amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins, the primeval forest far surpasses the commercial forest. If we factor in the non-profit contribution of purified air, cleansed soils, and filtered streams, a “common good profit” of at least one hundred thousand euros per hectare per year is generated.

So, a ten-hectare forest area, which the association desires, contributes millions to the common good. The association is committed to this goal with advice and action.

Nature has been scientifically proven to have a healing effect on the human soul. Nature enhances the recovery, healing, and inner dignity of people, from childhood to old age. Especially these two groups, the very young and the very old, should receive special support. The value of nature – the contact with it and the special, even spiritual relationship that each individual can experience in harmony with nature – is a lost asset in our performance-oriented society. The connection with the cosmos, which is the true essence of the soul, should be promoted with the help of the association. A house should become as green as a tree and the city as green as a forest. We want to bring city dwellers into the forest and bring the forest back into the city. The association’s stated goal is to acquire large forest properties near the city. This is intended to make possible the construction of a forest kindergarten, a forest school, and a forest nursing home.