Last week was packed with documenting and handing over tasks as, this week was a vacation week. I spent the week in the Sauerland region taking care of a patch of forest together with my parents and sister. In five days we:

  • fixed up a couple of fences to protect new planted trees from the hungry deer and rabbits.
  • planted around 390 trees with the goal of creating a sustainable mixed forest, ya it rained every single day, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
  • I hiked up to the local observation platform four times.
  • I finished Re:coding America and Evidence Guided.

Converting a patch of former spruce wood forest into a hopefully sustainable, climate-change resilient mixed forest

As mentioned on the right now page, my siblings and I are trying to take care of a small patch of formerly spruce wood forest that got taken down by bark beetle. Thinking, working, and planting in the forest is a rather humbling and grounding experience. It is a stark contrast to my digital, data-driven day-to-day job, which creates muscle soreness, a lot of joy, but also sorrow about the state of our planet.

The state of our planet, is also the large unknown variable if you try to regrow a forest - you need to think and anticipate the climate change and how this will affect the trees you plant for the next 100–200 years. So what did we plant:

  • For the core of the patch, we alternate between:
    • 80 robinia trees (1 year old) - it is a tough species that fertilizes the rather slaty ground we got.
    • 80 red oak trees (3 years old) - as these are slow growing and a nice diversification to the sessile oaks we planted three years ago
  • For the “edge of the forest” we went with (all of these are smaller, faster growing species):
    • 25 wild apple trees (2 years old)
    • 25 Turkish hazels (2 years old)
    • 25 little-leaf lime (2 years old)
  • For the “mixed” part (these were planted in small groups of 4-5 trees to mix it up and hedge against the unknown future):
    • 40 walnut trees (3 years old)
    • 50 chestnut trees (2 years old)
    • 50 black walnuts (3 years old)
  • As a small extra, we added (these are - as the names hint - not common tree species in Europe. But with the timespan in mind, why not try something exotic):
    • 5 sequoia (2 years old)
    • 5 Orient beech (2 years old)
    • 5 Canadian maple (1 year old)

Now it is time to wait, hope, and see what will grow and what not. Nobody can predict the future and so far, we as the human species have not had the challenge to hedge against climate change on such a large scale.

Next week will be back to the usual program, stay tuned.