Freiburg is one of the greenest cities in Germany: no other city of a comparable size can offer a larger area of woodland and vineyards and such diversity of habitats and natural spaces. Freiburg literally lies in the greenbelt and this factor plays a key role in its appeal. Its location, sunny climate, its relaxed pace of life caused 19th century visitors to the city to talk of the „Front hall of Italy“ and the „First exhilaration of the South“.
The City of Freiburg is one of the largest municipal forest-owners in Germany. Covering an area of some 6,400 hectares, 43% of the urban district of Freiburg is made up of woodland – it functions as the lungs and the green heart of Freiburg and, with around four million visitors a year, it is the most important recreational space close to the city. The nearby Black Forest, with its rich and bountiful natural environment, plays a crucial role in the appeal of Freiburg to tourists: 90% conservation area, 15% natural habitat. The Black Forest also has an outstanding infrastructure with 450 kilometres of forest paths, adventure and educational trails, BBQ and play areas, observation towers, bathing lakes etc.
Recreational space, forestry and ecosystem
It is not simply a coincidence that the much-quoted term „sustainability“ originally comes from the world of forestry. Forests are habitats for animals and plants, recreational space for people and indispensable for climate protection, as they produces wood, a renewable raw material, and also store groundwater.
Sustainable Forest Management
After the seas and oceans, woodland is the most important CO2 sink and thus of crucial importance for climate protection. That is why Freiburg has long been committed to sustainable forest management. In 1999, the Forestry Office was the first forestry operation in Baden-Württemberg to be certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which allows it to market timber displaying the eco-label. This approach therefore means that high standards apply to the management of the city‘s woodland, such as refraining from deforestation, pesticides and insecticides.
The „Freiburg Forest Convention“, was adopted in 2001, the first of its kind at a municipal level, and revised in 2010. This commits the City to a policy of ecological, economic and social responsibility with regard to sustainable forest management. Freiburg has also supported the Freiburg Convention on the Protection of Ancient Woodland, developed by Greenpeace Freiburg, since 2009. One of the aims is to do more to promote the sale of local timber, preferably certified under FSC or Naturland guidelines.
In times of rising timber prices, the municipal forest is also starting to grow in economic importance: currently, the felling of 35,000 square metres of woodland raises € 2 million in revenue for the city annually. The woodland ecosystem can only be maintained providing economic and ecological management go hand in hand. If the timber from the Mooswald Forest is used to build nursery schools and apartment blocks, then this benefits resources, the city‘s budget and jobs in the region.
Learning from Nature
The Municipal Forestry Office in Freiburg is responsible for the Mundenhof Animal Reserve, supports private and public nature and environmental education facilities and organizes its own woodland educational events. The Forestry Testing and Research Institute or the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Science enjoy an excellent global reputation in matters of forest and climate ecology.