A main focus of the forest management in the Saxon state forest in the recent past was on measures against bark beetle attacks


Sachsenforst is the state forest service of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. Its tasks are as varied as Saxony’s forests themselves. In addition to managing the state forest, Sachsenforst also bears responsibility for the large nature reserves in Saxony, and provides extensive forest-related information gained from forest research and environmental monitoring. As a Superior Authority for Forests and Hunting, Sachsenforst helps to ensure that the legal regulations affecting the forest are complied with, and consequently that the forest can fulfil its many functions in future. 

The Public Enterprise Sachsenforst founded on 1 January 2006 is the product of the former state forest administration and the Saxon forestry offices. It is part of the Saxon public administration as a special superior state authority. Its headquarters, located in Pirna/Graupa near Dresden, includes the General Management, the Competence Centre for Wood and Forestry, as well as the Superior Forests and Hunting Authority.

The operational level is split into twelve forest districts and three nature reserve administrations with a total of 191 forest stations. Sachsenforst also encompasses a forestry apprenticeship and further training centre, three forest schools, two machinery stations, one seed kiln, three forest-tree nurseries and the Moritzburg wildlife park. Sachsenforst currently employs around 1,450 staff, who, along with the outsourced services, make it one of the biggest rural employers. Sachsenforst is supervised by the Saxon State Ministry for Energy, Climate Protection, Environment and Agriculture and its administrative board.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity?

Sachsenforst: The main areas of activity are:

  • The integrative natural forest management of the around 208,000 hectares of state owned forest in accordance with the Saxon Forest Law: The forest management is exercised according to the criteria of the PEFC standard in an ecologically orientated way and with special consideration of the identified forest functions. Since 2018, the forest management is dominated by coping extensive forest damages due to barkbeetles, storms and draughts. Currently, arount 1,35 mill. m³ wood are harvested per year. In order to cope with the climate change, a main focus of the management lies on the conversion of the conifer dominated and poorly structured forest stands to well structured mixed forest stands with high shares of decidious trees. For that, around 1,300 hectares are regenerated actively or via natural regeneration. For the forest conversion, around 15 mill. Euro are invested yearlly.  Also, the state forest is a prioity area for the protection of biotopes, especially for the maintenance, development and support of stepping stone biotope.
The training of forest workers is a an important task of Sachsenforst | Copyright: Lothar Sprenger  
  • Responsibility for the large nature reserves in Saxony: As an authority for large nature reserves, Sachsenforst is particularly responsible for the large Saxon reserves, namely the Saxon Switzerland National Park, the biosphere reserve Oberlausitzer Heide- und Teichlandschaft, the wilderness area Königsbrücker Heide and the nature reserves Gohrischheide/ Elbniederterrasse Zeithain. With its fascinating rocky landscape, the Saxon Switzerland National Park, founded in 1990 during German reunification, is highly regarded well beyond the state’s borders. Its 700+ climbing peaks and some 400 kilometres of hiking trails attract three million visitors to the region every year. The free natural development of the environment without human management is guaranteed on three quarters of the area. It is a huge challenge to harmonise the conservation objectives with the Elbe Sandstone Mountains’ long-standing importance for the region’s tourism industry. The UNESCO biosphere reserve Oberlausitzer Heide- und Teichlandschaft is characterised by all kinds of habitats, such as forests, water, heaths and inland dunes. Unlike the Saxon Switzerland National Park, human management plays a key role across most of the area. The traditional cultivated landscape is to be preserved through sustainable usage, e.g. the centuries-old fish farming industry, to ensure otters, sea eagles, cranes and water lilies can continue to live here. Two of Saxony’s largest nature reserves, the wilderness area Königsbrücker Heide and Gohrischheide/ Elbniederterrasse Zeithain district, were established in completely different circumstances. They were used as military training areas for over 100 years. This use and their relative isolation from public access facilitated the formation of unique habitats, particularly open ground, and retreats for rare and heavily endangered species of plants and animals. Protecting, maintaining and developing these impressive landscapes and biotopes, with their diverse flora and fauna, is one of Sachsenforst’s main tasks. Since 23rd August 2023, the Königsbrücker Heide is the first wilderness area in Germany accoring to the IUCN criteria.
  • Support of private and cooperate forest owners: Over half of Saxony’s forest belongs to some 85,000 private, church and municipal forest owners. The vast majority of these only own very small areas spanning less than five hectares. Sachsenforst’s advisory services and advanced training courses help the forest owners manage their forest competently and sustainably – in the interests of the owners and the forest itself. The growing demands placed on forest management have prompted Sachsenforst to offer private owners advisory services on various topics, such as nature conservation in the forest, tree species selection and work processes, as a self-help aid. In addition, Sachsenforst performs certain support services on a contract basis for forest owners lacking forest specialists. Churches and municipalities not employing their own forest station managers can use Sachsenforst’s forest district service. The European Union, the German federal government and the Free State of Saxony have set up funding programmes for a series of forest management measures. Sachsenforst is responsible for assessing and approving forest owners’ funding applications.
Forest conversion is intended to develop forests rich in species and structures. | Copyright: Lothar Sprenger  

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

Sachsenforst: We offer the following main products and services:

Timber from the state forest: Around 1,35 mill. m³ are harvested each year. It is sold to the regional wood processing industry, local crafsmans and as firewood to the local people.

Training people: Sachsenforst passes on its forest knowledge to future generations of foresters. Vocational training in the field of forestry and forestry career courses ensure highly qualified staff are always available to perform the wide, varied tasks associated with forest management. Tertiary studies themselves involve professional exchange between the forestry faculty at Dresden University of Technology and Sachsenforst, based on a research and teaching agreement. In order to keep its employees, the staff at subordinate forest authorities and third parties, such as the forest owners, constantly in the loop, Sachsenforst offers needs-based advanced training.

Hunting and meat: Hunting also plays a key role in securing the investments in forest conversion. It guarantees the maintenance of an ecological and economic balance in terms of game numbers. Sachsenforst is striving for woods, able to rejuvenate themselves naturally by spreading their own seeds and largely without any additional protective measures against damage from bud browsing and bark peeling (e.g. fences). Sachsenforst has put in place a comprehensive monitoring system to protect Saxony’s forest. Numerous kinds of environmental data (climate data, soil condition, plant nutrients) are collected and used to draw conclusions about the forest management. Sachsenforst’s staff constantly monitor major forest pests to determine potential hazards, and take appropriate measures to prevent and combat these.

Recreation: Sachsenforst maintains an extensive trail network. The Saxon state forest is home to some 13,000 kilometres of forest roads and trails, which serve as an elementary basis for sustainable forest management, but also as a means of pure natural and recreational enjoyment. Approx. 3,600 kilometres of these are officially designated as hiking trails, while a further 1,300 kilometres are bridle paths. For Sachsenforst, it goes without saying that, following forest management measures like timber harvesting, these trails must be restored to a condition enabling use by visitors and pleasure-seekers. Even special recreational facilities, including mountain-bike tracks and cross-country ski runs, can also be arranged on suitable trails in consultation with Sachsenforst. This always involves weighing up conservation aspects, forestry aspects, and the needs of forest visitors

A main focus of the forest management in the Saxon state forest in the recent past was on measures against bark beetle attacks | Copyright: Lothar Sprenger  

Forest education: The forest as a lush, natural classroom offers countless ways of experiencing its diversity with all the senses – something which is becoming increasingly important in an age where people are becoming more and more alienated from nature. Only those who understand and respect the complex forest ecosystem can help preserve it. As part of environmental and forest education services for all ages, Sachsenforst uses the forest as a teaching aid to convey humans’ responsibility for sustainable development across society as a whole. At three forest schools and other forest education facilities, the Moritzburg wildlife park and the visitors’ centres at the major nature reserves, Sachsenforst offers interested persons many different ways of exploring the forest’s secrets. The forest districts and reserves also run numerous events, such as “Forest youth games” and forester hikes.

E.E: What estimations do you have for the rest of 2023?

Sachsenforst: The forest management in 2023 is again dominated by the measures taken in order to further reduce damages due to barkbeetles. Due to effective countermeasures and higher amounts of precipitation during the summer it is expected that the damages will be reduced compared to previous year.