Almost a third of Germany is covered in forest, most of it under productive forestry management.
Forestry ecosystems differ from ancient woodland in various respects, including a modified structure (composition of species and age of trees), direct human substance and energy input (use of fertilizers and pesticides), substantial biomass withdrawal (logging) and, in places, substantially altered soils, such as substance shifts, acidification, densification.
Like other types of woodland, forestry ecosystems are characterized by high biomass/surface ratios, creating sinks for air-borne pollutants from far and near.
Apart from their recreational value for the population, woodland ecosystems have a prolific material and energy balance, so that they exercise important functions in the planet's carbon and water cycles.
Because of their substantial ecological importance and their sensitivity (new kinds of forest damage), there is an urgent and vital need for environment watch programmes, incorporating Germany's Environmental Specimen Bank, to observe these ecosystems.
The following sampling areas were chosen to represent forest ecosystems.