What is the difference between norway maple and mountain maple, between red beech and hornbeam, or between summer and winter lime?? What fruits will the rowan, speierling and sweet chestnut bear?? And what do yew, silver fir and black poplar actually look like?? All these questions can be answered by nature lovers in the tree-lined avenue on the northern edge of the hammelburg military training area. Frank hablinger, district forester at the federal forestry operation, has all the "trees of the year" there have them planted. Especially in corona times a popular destination with a magnificent view over the saale valley.
Village festival kicked off the event
Since 1989, the dr.-silvius wodarz foundation a german tree of the year. In 2013, district forester frank hablinger then came up with the idea of planting all the species named up to then. The occasion was the 1111th anniversary of pfaffenhausen. Accordingly, he has chosen a very special place for the avenue: on the road between saaleck castle and the "franzosenkreuz", below the airfield and with a wonderful view into the saale valley, from the sodenberg to the trimburg. "This used to be part of the pfaffenhausen district", hablinger, who is in charge of the pfaffenhausen district at the federal forestry office, tells us that his district in the troop replacement area covers 2500 hectares, of which around 950 hectares are forest.
"You don’t have to reinvent trees, you just have to rediscover them", hablinger quotes the initiator of the tree of the year campaign, silvius wodarz, a forestry official and environmentalist who died in 2018. The district forester with the federal eagle on his arm is pleased that the campaign is so well received: "there are always people out and about up here", he reports, apparently due to the corona restrictions, more local people and tourists are interested in the local nature. The tree-lined avenue stretches below an official nordic-walking track. Nevertheless, it is in the troop uprising area. Visitors are tolerated, but there is a restriction: during the sliding operation, entry is prohibited, which is indicated by a hoisted buoy at the franzosenkreuz and at the access from the campground above saaleck castle.
When there’s no shoving, those interested can discover 33 tree species in the "tree of the year avenue": 32 times the tree of the year from 1989 to 2020 and additionally the "tree of the century", the gingko that forster hablinger himself donated. All other trees have tree sponsors: it costs 150 euros to be on the sign for the current tree of the year. Included are the purchase of the tree, planting, planting, care and possible replacement.
Native for 350 years
The gingko has already had to be replanted, because the location of the avenue is not ideal for any tree species: "we have a very nutrient-rich shell limestone, but the precipitation is missing", describes hablinger the conditions on the lagerberg. For each tree he had a hole dug in the rocky ground and filled with soil. "The next sites are already prepared."
In the pfaffenhaus jubilee year, 26 tree species were planted in one cutting, and since then the current tree of the year has been replaced every year. Sponsors are provided for years to come: "we have a waiting list", says hablinger. Anyone who still wants to be included can contact the federal forestry operation reubenberg.
This year the robinia or false acacia is tree of the year. The tree species came to germany from the usa exactly 350 years ago, reports the forester, and: "the robinia is one of the most planted trees in the world." the pioneer tree species also occurs frequently in the troop training area: decades ago, small woods were created in the countryside with the fast-growing tree. The robinia has many advantages: it tolerates heat and drought, the roots secure the soil and the first bleeding occurs after only six years. That is why the robinia is also very popular with beekeepers as a bee pasture. "The honey is mild and does not crystallize", female hablinger.
Although the robinia grows quickly, it has a harder wood than the oak, the forester reports. Their wood even has the highest calorific value of all native tree species. Because the wood is so weather-resistant, it is well suited for fence posts or vineyard trusses. It is also used as decking and for garden furniture. However, robinia never grows candles-straight: "as a sage wood it is not quite so suitable." and: apart from the blood, all parts are poisonous to humans, from the bark to the leaves to the seeds.
Diversity throughout the district
Hablinger is pleased that this year in particular, many people are taking the time to make a trip to the tree-of-the-year avenue above the saale valley. There, the tree species could be studied in a very confined space, also by school classes. At the same time, he emphasizes that the individual species do not only grow in the artificially created avenue: "all tree species that exist in germany can be found in my area", emphasizes the district forester.