share your ideas about close to nature, integrated, permanent forestry
For the boreal zone forests of Scandinavia, the so-called Liberich or Naturkultur (here after Naturkultur) style of close to nature forestry has become both the most hotly debated and the most relevant way of practicing close to nature forestry – for those that want to try that, Pro Silva members, or not. A few years ago, a course in Naturkultur was arranged in the forests near Oslo (Oslomarka, Oslo City forest), and Pro Silva Norway invited the founder of Naturkultur, Mats Hagner, to have a weekend course for Pro Silva in Telemark county after that. Naturkultur was also taken up seriously by the forest owner organisations of East Norway in the beginning of the 2000´s. That is to point at the style´s relevance in Scandinavia. Outside of Scandinavia it has seemingly not reached so much popularity.
The founder of Naturkultur is the Swedish retired professor Mats Hagner, who has a long career in forestry, for many years working with even aged stands, but in the 1980´ies, he turned around and became the most important spokesman for uneven aged forests in Sweden, which seemingly caused him a lot of trouble. Gradually he and his style of forestry has, however, gained more acceptance in Sweden.
I think it is hard to valuate Naturkultur without studying it on the background of Swedish and Scandinavian forest and forestry history. In many ways, Naturkultur is a «back to Wallmo» movement. Uno Wallmo was the iconic symbol of uneven aged forestry in Scandinavia for nearly 50 years, in the first half of the 20th century. He was a great ideal also for Agnar Barth, the most profound Norwegian defender of uneven aged forests at the same time. Wallmo published his most important book «Rationell skogsafverkning» (which means «rational harvesting of forests») in 1897. The book is most famous for its recommendation of selective cuttings. It became the no. 1 book about forestry in Scandinavia for a couple of decades, but also became the target of dirty attacks from the forthcoming defenders of even aged forests in the 1930´íes (according to what Mats Hagner says).
They blamed Wallmo for everything that had gone wrong in Swedish forestry during the time when his book was popular, as they blamed Wallmo´s student, Barth, for the same in Norway. Probably they blamed the spokesmen for uneven aged forestry for a lot of things that they had have nothing to do with, but the criticism was effective, not at least since it was connected to political power over the forest legislation and its everyday implications.
So, what had gone wrong, and what were Wallmo and his students accused for? What had happened was that many, maybe most, forest owners over a long period of time had practiced exploiting forestry systems. They had ruined the forests by taking out the useful timber and leaved the forests for a slow, natural regeneration, that was often reduced by sheep and cow grazing, as well. Sometimes forests were actually clear cut in that way, and without planting or sowing afterwards. But most common was probably the selective and exploiting type of forestry. A practice that also quite probably many places might have reduced the genetic quality of the forests, as small, crocked, heavily branched or in other ways little useful trees were generally among those that were left behind to become the parents of the next generation.
Agnar Barth, Wallmo´s prominent Norwegian follower, himself described the destructions of the forests in that period in this way (my translation):
“From dense, vigorous stands with well-formed stems with good interior quality, have forests over vast areas in the lower altitudes now been reduced to a more or less scattered collection of shrub-trees with branched, loose, little durable and for every technical use unsatisfactory wood.”
- Written in “Norwegian Journal of Forestry”, 1924, page 418.
Those were hard words, and probably a bit exaggerated. Still they give an impression of how conditions could be like at that time and not at least how foresters experienced the time they were living in.
Since Wallmo and his students all recommended selective cuttings, some forest owners could maybe somehow excuse themselves by saying that they actually practiced good forestry according to the best recommendations... or it was claimed that they claimed that. Anyway, selective cuttings and uneven aged forestry is much more difficult to control afterwards, than clear felling and planting is. Everyone can see that an area has been clear felled, and everyone can see if there is regeneration or not. It is also quite easy to count the number of new plants per ha, and hence calculate if the regeneration should be regarded sufficient or not. It is a system perfect for bureaucratic and technocratic control and regulations. Those forest owners that forget to regenerate the forest after felling can be found and corrected.
Selective cuttings are much more difficult to evaluate afterwards. We can see what is left behind, but it is difficult to say whether or not all the best trees were taken. We can see if there are small plants coming up, but it takes a lot of skills and knowledge to say if the number is sufficient. Therefore, if the forest owner or manager has not a good attitude to sustainability, it should be quite easy to hide an exploiting misuse of the forest under the name of selective, rational cuttings. So it was at least feared that was the case, both in Sweden and Norway. And people are generally egoistic, they thought, seeking short time profit over long term forest production. Therefore people need to be controlled by the governments. We can also say that this meant that the worst, the least responsible forest owners, set the standards for how all forest owners had to be treated by the authorities.
So Wallmo was discredited, and Agnar Barth in Norway, slaughtered symbolically as symbols of a time that had been, but should never be allowed to come again, the time of exploiting forest harvesting. Now was the time of replanting after cutting and division of forests into easily measurable even aged units, were the optimal age of harvesting could be calculated and put into practice. Rationality and efficiency had finally entered the forests, replacing the mystics that had once ruled the forests between crocked, old trees, dead stems and all the other irregularity.
Several market conditions also favoured this great shift in forestry. The use of timber for constructions was reduced a lot in the years after WWII, and the cellulose industry expanded instead. Paper was so valuable at that time, that the paper industry could pay as much as the sawmills for the timber. The quality change, which we could also call a quality reduction, of the timber, that followed the new type of forestry, was at least much less problematic for the pulping industry, than it was for the sawmills. In some ways this change certainly also produced timber better suited for pulping than the timber from the uneven aged forests, especially more even diameter of the annual rings.
So that was the way Wallmo´s ideas lost their grip on Scandinavian forestry. And as times changed and new generations grew up, no wonder that some people started to rediscover him, and ask critical questions about what had been going on from 1930-1950, when the «new and modern» ideas took over in forestry. One of those that have done that, is Mats Hagner. And when we know on what basis Wallmo was put off the ideological throne, that his teachings had given a cover up for exploitive forestry (or even was accused for having recommended exploitation), and hence a terrible reduction of the productivity of Scandinavian forests, it is logical that Mats Hagner´s Naturkultur system puts much emphasis on distancing itself from exploitation and to avoid it being misused as a tool for that. And it is no wonder that much of the criticism against it is based on direct and indirect accusations that Naturkultur in reality is some form of exploitive system that won´t work in the real world.
The Naturkultur ideas
When we have now seen the historical background, let´s look at Naturkultur itself. I have previously tried to define Naturkultur as a kind of «back to Wallmo» movement. But it is not a pure rediscover of Uno Wallmo. It is an entirely new type of forestry, developed only on the historic basis of Wallmo. A Wallmo updated for the technical conditions of modern times, and trying to incorporate new scientific discoveries that have been done afterwards, and also incorporating the environmental concerns of today.
One of the big questions about Naturkultur, is this one: «What IS Naturkultur?» I have found the question surprisingly hard to answer. Mats Hagner puts more emphasis on pointing out what it is not, than what it really is.
If we go to the core of it, Naturkultur can probably be described as: Managing forests in a way that gives the owner the maximum profit, now and in the future, and here also including non-economic values.
Which is more or less the same basis as all directions within forestry are built on.
What makes Naturkultur different from any other types of forestry practiced, is a set of assumptions, we might call them axioms, that Mats Hagner believes in and bases his recommendations on. And these assumptions do to a large degree give practical results consistent with the type of forestry practiced by Uno Wallmo – and with the Pro Silva ideas.
These assumptions are scientifically proved, according to Mats Hagner, but they are still strongly disputed. Much of the controversy about Naturkultur is therefore a debate about its underlying axioms.
As Mats Hagner describes it, Naturkultur can be implemented anywhere in the world, in any forest type, one must just adjust the Naturkultur ideas to the conditions of the site. Practically, however, almost everything Mats Hagner has written about Naturkultur is about the boreal forest type typical for much of Sweden and East Norway, a forest with Picea abies and Pinus sylvestris as the dominating tree species and with Betula pubescens as the most important minor species. One thing Mats Hagner probably can be criticised for, is that he suggests that his system could be implemented anywhere, without mentioning that Central Europe already has an established tradition for close to nature forestry, and without discussing to which extent and how Naturkultur is related to these forestry systems, or differ from them.
Mats Hagner´s axioms are probably most relevant for the Swedish type of boreal, conifer forests. As mentioned in the beginning, these are also the areas where this style of forestry is most hotly debated, and partly implemented.
I´ll point at some of the most important axioms underlying Naturkultur:
1. Suppressed trees in a forest never lose their ability to recover, given that their are not too abruptly released. That is true, what so ever strongly suppressed they might be, and irrespective of how long time they have been suppressed.
2. Suppressed trees in an uneven aged forest are not genetically inferior to the dominating trees.
3. The annual growth rate of a forest area is independent of the standing volume, as long as the whole area is covered by trees.
These three are probably the most fundamental, but I want to mention a few more:
4. In a seed tree cutting in a Scots pine forest, the seed trees mainly has a protective function, not really a seed trees function. The seedlings were there from the beginning, and start to grow when released. Soil tilling in a seed tree stand has no effect to prepare the soil for seeding, but is mainly done in order to prevent attacks from insects.
5. When planting, it is best to put the plants in the upper, organic layer of the soil, not in the mineral soil below.
6. Trees with slower growth in the beginning and a small portion of juvenile wood are a more valuable timber resource than fast growing trees, both for the sawmills and for the pulping industry.
7. It is beneficial for the total health of the forest if we leave a number of trees of fulfill a natural lifespan and let them die and rot naturally in the forest. This would ensure a minimum of deadwood in the forest. Mats Hagner wants these trees to be especially marked, so we can prove that they are there and we can make sure that they are not accidentally felled later.
I´ll here try to give a short discussion of the axioms.
1. The core of this point is essential to all types of uneven aged forestry. It is, however, not everyone who would take the assumption as far as Mats Hagner does. Unfortunately, it is written few details about it, as far as I have been able to find out, but it is quite clear that in the 1920 to 30´ies in Norway, it was considered an important task in uneven aged forestry to distinguish between those suppressed trees that were still able to fully recover, and those that were too heavily suppressed and never would be able recover. A three hundred year old little spruce tree was once mentioned as an example of the latter category.
In any case, strongly suppressed trees might have damages that the carry with them. Such damages, and their negative effects on timber quality, can not be neglected in Naturkultur forestry, either.
Also, even if this works perfect for a shade tolerant tree like spruce, maybe even Scots pine, it does necessarily not work very well for all light demanding trees, like for example birch.
Suppressed birch trees tend to be weak and easily bowed by the snow. This might make the tree useless for timber, even if it recovers from the suppression. Also, suppressed birches, let us say they have been standing for too long in a very dense, even aged stand, might have developed a very narrow crown, and might have hard to make a new one after releasement. Some deciduous tree species also tend to rot from inside when growing in a suppressed position for a long time.
So in the real world, I think this might be an axoim that works best in the coniferous forests where Naturkultur was first developed. Even in forests of other progenies of the same two species can this maybe work less good than it seems to do in northern Sweden.
2. This one sounds logical when one reads Mats Hagner´s explanation. Smaller trees have just had bad luck with when and where they were born. Still, forest genetic research has shown that one would get offspring that grows faster and gets taller than average trees of the species from the same area, if seeds are collected from the tallest trees, even in an uneven aged forest. This has been very much the basis for the efforts within tree breeding that have been done in Scandinavia over the past 50 years.
On the other hand, uneven aged forestry is generally based on releasing smaller tree plants in the forest, and the intention is not to genetically deplete the forest.
Still, I think they tried in the earlier days to when practicing sound uneven aged forestry, to leave some of the biggest among the dominating trees as seed trees, when carrying out selective cuttings. That is what can be understood from the literature on the issue from that time. Mats Hagner partly avoids the problem by recommending planting after cuttings, so that one does anyway not rely on the natural seeding that happens after the cutting. And seedlings that were there before the cutting may very well have the biggest (and best?) trees in the stand as their mothers.
3. This is maybe the statement from Mats Hagner that has caused most controversy in Sweden. He has often been blamed for destroying the growth of the forest by recommending too heavy thinnings/selective cuttings.
Here, Mats Hagner is in company with Waldemar Opsahl, one the great spokesmen for age class forestry in Norway in the 1930´ies. Waldemar Opsahl was one of those who talked about «daring» to make hard cuttings in the forests, and even praised forest owners who more or less clear felled their forests in their exploitation of the timber resources as more clever than the more modest ones, who only took out the biggest trees. Generally at that time, the first ones were seen as more egoistic and destructive in their behaviour, than the latter ones. It is an irony of history that these two men should now agree at this point.
One can for example see in an even aged stand, that the growth rate is often low in the beginning, then increasing with increasing standing volume until some «optimal» level, and then decreasing again as the forest becomes over-dense. Second, one could see that different tree species and different progenies of the same species have different growth rates at the same site. Therefore, I find it hard to accept Mats Hagner´s claim that only the soil and climate of the site determine the growth rate of the forest.
In the debate on forest systems in Norway in the 1930´ies, it was claimed from the defenders of clear-cutting methods, that in a multi-layered forest, all trees were generally of the same age, the smaller ones were just those that had the slowest growth and had been suppressed by the faster growing trees. With further selective cuttings, one only helped foreward the genetically lower quality trees, without producing any regeneration. The times of real regeneration in the forests were found to be the periods with the hardest, least selective cuttings. Then the forest was opened up enough to make it possible for lots of new tree plants to germinate. - This was at least the type of explanation that was given in the decades before planting after clear-cutting had become the recommended method.
Also, the most prominent defender of age class forestry of them all in Norway in the 1930´ies, Erling Eide, took part in the debate about the management of the pine forests in Finnmark in the northernmost of Norway. He claimed that the forests had been left with a too large standing volumes by the old school of selective cutting foresters, resulting in a significant reduction of the timber production. When the modern ideas of hard cuttings arrived, the forests started to regenerate and increase their production.
Now is Naturkultur not based on making the forest regenerate itself, so the similarities does not go very deep. But the lack of fright for hard cuttings is in some ways similar.
Then we will have a look at the less important axioms:
4. I have too little experience with seed tree cuttings to have a well founded personal view on this. But most textbooks in forestry assume that seed trees really are seed trees, not just so-called ones, despite the research that Mats Hagner sites. What I have seen, is mature pine forests were no, or nearly no, aftergrowth is visible, especially in West Norway.
I assume here that there can be differences between pine forests in different areas. Maybe where there is a sandy soil (glacifluvial deposit) that is good for pine seeds to germinate in, and where there is little disturbing vegetation that competes with the pine seedlings, one would find more small seedlings waiting for the grown up trees to be felled? The research that Mats Hagner bases his axiom on is mainly from continental climates, where such conditions are more common.
The main practical consequence Mats Hagner makes from this statement, is that he is against soil preparation in forestry. As it is not always considered environmentally friendly, and is not useful if we can protect the plants from insect attacks in other ways. After all, I think it is hard to get away from the fact that this reduces the possibilities for natural regeneration in forestry, but that is not so important, because as we see, Naturkultur does not rely on natural regeneration. Mats Hagner´s view is clearly that it is better to plant, than to disturb the soil in order to make seedlings germinate.
5. This point is totally against what is generally believed to be the best. Mats Hagner´s best argument in this case is simply: Natural seedlings in the forest mainly have their roots in the upper, organic layer, therefore this must be the best place. So why is it so common to recommend planting in the mineral soil? The most important reason must be to reduce the risk of drought. Plants in the mineral soil get a better water supply than plants that are put in the organic layer.
The point is after all therefore probably closely connected to the type of field Mats Hagner wants plants to be planted in: That is, inside a forest stand, not on an open clear cut. Under the conditions Mats Hagner prefers the plants to be planted, they have much better protection against drought.
However, Naturkultur does not necessarily result in planting in an enclosed forest stand. In this case there is a question if Mats Hagner still would prefer plants to be put in the organic soil?
6. This can also be disputed, especially as far as regards the pulping industry. They often seem to prefer timber with a high percentage of soft spring wood compared to the harder summer wood. But what is beneficial to them, is that timber from uneven aged forestry contains little of the short fibered juvenile wood, and it has a higher density.
In 1955 the pulping industry in Norway gave the following advice to the foresters about how they wanted the timber to be like: Year rings around 4 mm wide and as even as possible, and a high cellulose content (= small percentage of summer wood, achieved by moving provenances northwards and upwards?). That is quite different from the timber one would get from the forestry that Mats Hagner recommends. On the other hand, the suggestions from the industry in 1955 resemble a lot what has been the practical result of the type of age class forestry that has been used in Sweden and Norway for the last 60 years.
The timber construction industry would, on the other hand, probably be more satisfied with the Naturkultur type of timber.
7. This point has an economical cost in the short terms. Otherwise we can probably conclude that this is a good measure to make the forests more natural and maintain biodiversity.
The point is also taken into the Norwegian PEFC standard for forestry and also the forest legislation in Norway, except that neither place is there said anything about marking the trees. It is, however, not improbable that Mats Hagner is the inspiration for those paragraphs.
The basis for the practical implementation and its advantages and drawbacks
This was the theoretical foundation. Practically, Naturkultur is based on a system where the forest owner essentially takes out as much timber as he likes (but preferably after economic calculations carried out according to the recommendations by Mats Hagner). Then he takes a look at the natural regrowth that is visible, and where this is not sufficient, he plants in the openings. Unlike almost all other systems for close to nature forestry, Naturkultur does not stand there waiting for a natural regeneration that is not there at the moment. In Naturkultur, one plants if there are not enough smaller trees to fill the voids after the ones that were felled.
Here, Mats Hagner has also developed a system for calculating if the rest stand is dense enough, or not. That is: Whether a plant that we put in the opening is likely to survive. This system is quite interesting, and is based on research from different other scientists. One must, however, note that his system is developed for the spruce and pine forests of northern Scandinavia, and may need adjustments when implemented in other regions and with other tree species. Mats Hagner has also developed practical suggestions for how to organise the work when planting in small openings after selective cuttings.
It is a system of selective cutting, then planting. Therefore, Mats Hagner breaks the old linkage, that has been so strong over long times, between selective cutting and natural regeneration. Here, Mats Hagner eliminates one of the most important problems that selective cutting systems have been criticised for in Scandinavia: That they promise a natural regeneration that do not always occure the way we wish.
The possibility of planting after selective cuttings were discussed sometimes in the classical literature in for example Norway, and the conclusion has mainly been that if you want to plant, it is better to clear cut first. That was because much of the point with selective cuttings was thought to be that one saved the planting costs. Mats Hagner thinks otherwise. He picks the best from the two worlds: The timber quality from a forest treated by selective cuttings, in the tradition after Uno Wallmo and his fellows, and the safety of regeneration, promised by age class forestry.
The English word for Naturkultur, Liberich, is a shortening for LIBErating cuttings and enRICHing plantings. This tells us that to plant after a selective cutting is really what Naturkultur is most basically all about. It is the concept that shall make sure that we can practice selective forestry just the way Uno Wallmo recommended, without being accused for practicing exploiting forestry.
Now, Mats Hagner likes to present Naturkultur as a forestry based on selective cuttings. And many of the arguments that are used in favour of Naturkultur are arguments in favour of selective cuttings. In the same way, many arguments against Mats Hagner and his Naturkultur are directed most of all against selective cuttings in general. In this way, Naturkultur is fully consistent, or we could say synonymous, with the Pro Silva concept of close to nature forestry. That is: A system or type of forestry based on avoiding clear cuts and preserving forest climate and forest continuity also after cuttings, during the regeneration stage.
But according to Mats Hagner´s own writings, this is not strictly true. The core and heart of Naturkultur is only that you cut first, then plant as far as necessary. However, the axioms within or behind Naturkultur direct the forester towards a solution where this cutting tends to be a selective one. It can, however, also be consistent with Naturkultur to clear cut a forest. That is, if the forest owner is in desperate need for money or if the felling of one tree would make the rest of the forest unstable (as can be the case in dense, even aged forests), and probably in some other special cases.
In this way, Naturkultur is not truly identical with the Pro Silva ideology. On the other hand, I myself am not completely against clear cuts. Therefore, also I disagree with the strictest interpretations of the ideology of the organisation which I am a member of. I think clear cuts probably has to be a part of a total concept for forestry. It is not all use of clear cuts I am against, but the over-use and idealisation of this method that we see today, and I am also against the simplified view presented by some people, that there are no alternatives to clear cuts, an idea which leaves the forest owner or manager with a sense of having no alternatives to choose between. Clear cuts, are, after all, beneficial to some of the organisms that naturally belong to a forest, and a clear cut is to some degree ecologically a resemblance of a large storm felling or a forest fire.
According to Mats Hagner, Naturkultur would lead to a diversity of forest management systems, as different forest owners would practice it differently. That includes also the possibility for some clear cuts.
Mats Hagner in his Naturkultur forestry implements a system where one tries to calculate the effects on all the other trees around, if one tree would be felled. Here, it should be calculated both the volume and value increments over so and so long time into the future, due to releasing of suppressed trees. But one should also calculate the risk of storm felling that the neighbouring trees are subjected to if one tree disappears. In this way it is theoretically possible to calculate how many trees are perfect to cut down now, and how many one should let grow bigger, to achieve a maximum economic profit.
This part of Naturkultur has been criticised for two reasons:
I think both points of view are relevant. I must agree that it seems a bit optimistic to think one is able to calculate exactly which trees to cut when, in order to achieve the maximum outcome for the forest owner. (Prices and not at least relative prices between different dimensions and qualities of timber might as well change in the future.) But I think Mats Hagner has developed a system that can be a useful guiding tool.
The second point goes right to the core of the philosophy of forest science. It is clearly right, as some of Mats Hagner´s opponents say, that in one way he presents an unpredictable future as if we could fully control it. On the other hand, this is a criticism that is valid for all of forest science. The argument is as relevant against the defenders of age class forestry, as it is against Mats Hagner and his Naturkultur. Also the defenders of even aged forests from the 1930´ies on argued as if they knew the future. They told, optimistic and full of confidence, that if a forest was clear cut and replanted, it would yield this and this much timber and earn the owner this and this much money after so and so many years.
So, yes, Mats Hagner is maybe too deterministic when he tries to explain what will happen in the forest after a certain treatment, but so are most other forest scientists as well, and maybe especially forest economists. It is therefore unjustified to blame Mats Hagner spesifically for this philosophical problem, even though the problem is quite relevant.
Mats Hagner´s way of calculating whether or not to cut down a tree is based on interest considerations. That is: What is the value of a tree if felled today, how much is the value going to be in the future, and which interest do one get on the value if the tree is saved? If that interest is lower than the interest the forest owner wants, the tree should be felled. But first, one must also calculate the effects on other trees around, if they may grow better and earn us more money if the tree is felled, or maybe the felling of the tree still would be costly because it means that a neighbouring tree with a great value potential may become subject to storm felling. All this must be included in the interest calculations before we can finally make the decision.
In this way, Naturkultur is also different from (or totally opposite of) those directions within close to nature forestry that disregard interest calculations as a useful tool in forestry. On the other hand, Mats Hagner hardly advocates to let trees grow extremely old. Some defenders of close to nature forestry want trees to get biologically mature before felling, which can mean ages of several hundreds of years for some species. This is probably hard to defend within the interest calculating system of Mats Hagner, if not timber from these old trees should be paid exceptionally well. Also, Mats Hagner seems only to calculate interest on the timber value that a tree has at the moment. He does not calculate the interests on the money we have invested in the tree, for example by planting it. Planting costs are by Mats Hagner regarded a part of the felling costs.
As said before, Mats Hagner wants all benefits from the forest, also non-economic and non-timber benefits, to be included in the decision making process in forestry. Non-timber values are, however, harder to calculate, and they are mainly included indirectly, in two ways: 1: By advocating uneven aged forests, which are generally more diverse and takes better care of for example recreation values than clear cut forestry. 2: By including some general environmental adjustments in the forest practice, like leaving some trees to fulfill a natural lifespan, saving nesting places for birds, etc.
There is one exception here: Big game, like the elk, seem to benefit from age class forestry, because they eat plants that are typical for clear-cut areas. Such game can have an important economic value and sometimes be worth more than the timber production on a property. With Naturkultur forestry and more selective cuttings, the food resources for elk may be reduced, and hence the landowner would get an economic loss. (On the other hand: We have generally too much deer game both in Sweden and Norway, seen from an ecological point of view.)
Naturkultur and the environmental movement
A few words must also be said about Naturkultur and its relation to environmentalism. Environmentalists have strongly applauded Naturkultur in Norway, probably also in Sweden. Maybe that has even been an obstacle for this style of forestry, since environmentalists are often considered some kind of enemies of forestry.
However, at some points they and Mats Hagner disagree, and that should be worth mentioning. The environmental movement claims that somewhere between 5 and 20% of all productive forest area must be legally protected from utilisation, so that nature and wildlife can develop there, and all biodiversity kept intact. That is the case, what so ever forestry methods we use on the areas where the timber production is utilised. Mats Hagner, on the other hand, claims that one of the advantages with Naturkultur would be the preservation of all biodiversity within the production forest, and there would be little or no use for nature reserves for preserving the forest biodiversity. In other words, the integrated view on forestry.
Second, in Norway they are strongly against further building of forest roads. Mats Hagner, on the other hand, claims a good network of roads to be a precondition for using Naturkultur forestry. So here the environmentalists are in conflict with themselves: They want Naturkultur forestry, but they don´t want the roads that one needs to do that.
So in the end, just to confuse you all a little bit, let us just look at what Mats Hagner claims Naturkultur is not: A cutting system. Still Mats Hagner claims that Naturkultur can lead to the implementation of several cutting systems. On the other hand, he also sometimes compares Naturkultur to some of them, and finds that Naturkultur is different from, and better then them all. Here Mats Hagner´s own argumentation seems inconsistent.
According to Mats Hagner, Naturkultur should be defined as type of forestry, nothing else. I find this definition problematic in some ways. Mainly because there are not so many other theories, ideologies, what we like to call it, that present themselves as «types of forestry». Therefore, it is difficult to know really what to compare Naturkultur with. What Mats Hagner maybe wants to say by using the term «type of forestry», is that it is different from all other forestry. But that is also not completely right, as we have seen already that it relies for example a lot on the heritage from Uno Wallmo. To some degree the somewhat unclear term «type of forestry», used to define Naturkultur, simply reflects the fact that Naturkultur is after not very well defined.
My own view on Naturkultur, is that I appreciate it very much for the great freedom it offers the forest owner, and the great intellectual freedom it provides for the theoretician. Mats Hagner really tries to put away many of the prejudicions so common within many different parts of forestry and always tries his best to be open-minded and willing to see nature just as complex and interesting as it really is. On the other hand, I have some more questions about the so-called scientifically proved facts that Mats Hagner himself believes in. There can be both arguments in favour and against each and every one of them, and they are not necessarily similarly valid everywhere and for every tree species. But most of all, I would like to learn more about Naturkultur.
Long but interesting read about this forestry system. I found several English documents on the Liberich system and at first glance it looks like another variation of close to nature forestry, but with some ideas I have not seen before. Will try to read up on it.