What the forest is worth to us

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

In view of the climate crisis, can we still afford to sacrifice forest ecosystems for construction projects? The compensation system for interventions in nature introduced in 2018 has its strengths, but also reaches its limits.

Frank Wolff holds a large-format printout over the centre console of his EV. The aerial view shows numerous brown areas on the slopes around the Nogemerhaff. An image of the past, when the farm located in the municipality of Redange/Attert still functioned primarily as a dairy farm and maize grew in the fields. Today, anyone who visits the west of the country is greeted by Angus cattle out to pasture and sees plum, apple or even cherry trees. The fields have been converted into extensive meadows and pastures where native flowers bloom in early summer.

Nogemerhaff is also the name of the first and largely completed compensation project of the Nature and Forestry Administration (ANF) – even if it will still take a few years until the first harvest of fruit trees. At the same time, it is a showcase project for the ANF, as quickly becomes apparent during the on-site visit. And that in three respects.

On an area of about 50 hectares acquired by the state, the nature administration has implemented its first major compensation project for construction and infrastructure projects. "Since the reformed Nature Conservation Act came into force in September 2018, there has been destruction of natural elements amounting to 19 million ecopoints. Only with this project can we say that actually more than a quarter is compensated than has been accrued during this time", says Frank Wolff, one of two deputy directors of the Nature Administration. Around the Nogemerhaff, visitors can see examples of almost the entire range of measures available to the national land pool manager. Following the road up Nogemerbierg, you can see newly planted trees and hedges on the left. Further up the slope, past the meadow orchard and a growing avenue of pear trees, the renaturalised meadows. Down in the valley, meanwhile, a wetland has been restored by means of two ponds, into which, Wolff hopes, a tributary of the "Fräsbech" (a stream) could perhaps flow again in the future by returning it to its original bed.

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