FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

General questions and answers for Forest Owners

Where exactly is my forest?

Each forest parcel that has an owner has a parcel number. This number consists of the district and the numerator and denominator of the parcel number or, more recently, is simply numbered consecutively. The parcel number is stored in the cadastral office. There, the individual parcels are marked on so-called cadastral maps. However, this is only imprecise information that is not sufficient when it comes to determining whether this or that tree still belongs to one’s own forest property. For this purpose, the boundaries must be precisely recorded. Existing boundary stones or markers can help here.

How do I find the exact boundaries of my forest?

It is important as a forest owner to know the exact boundaries of his forest. As a rule, this is not easy. In many forest areas, boundary stones mark the course of the boundary. However, these are often difficult to find because they are partly overgrown. You can obtain cadastral maps of your land through surveying offices. Some federal states also offer the exact boundary stone positions with the span dimensions (distances from stone to stone) via their geoportals. If the exact boundaries cannot be determined, surveying offices, but also forestry authorities and forestry organizations offer support here. If boundary stones are available, independent surveying by tape measure or laser is also possible. GPS-supported methods have the disadvantage that the GPS data are often not accurate and deviations of several meters can occur. Once the boundaries have been found, they are ideally marked. This can be done on trees, for example using spray paint, or on additional posts that are inserted into the forest floor and ideally also marked in color.

What are my obligations as a forest owner?

Ownership obliges; this also applies to private forest ownership. The rights and obligations of forest owners are regulated in the Federal Forest Act (BWaldG) and in the state forest laws of the respective federal states as well as in the Basic Law (GG).

As a forest owner, you have the right

  • to manage your forest according to the principles of proper forestry,
  • to apply for subsidies
  • to plant and to fell trees
  • to bequeath, lease or sell your forest.

However, forest ownership also comes with an obligation. This includes the obligation

  • to reforest after deforestation or forest damage
  • to grant the public the right to enter the forest at their own risk
  • to join the employers’ liability insurance association and
  • to provide extended traffic safety, i.e. to check whether any tree damage, hanging branches, etc. pose a danger to the public, for example in peripheral areas of its forest such as along public roads.

What needs to be done in my forest and who can help me?

Forestry associations, in some regions called forest owners associations (WBV) or forest management associations (FBG), are associations of private forest owners. They support individuals in the management of the forest. They help with all questions concerning forest conversion, timber sales and issues related to forest damage. They also arrange contact with service providers and state foresters. State agencies also offer advice and support on issues related to private forest management, with a particular focus on sovereign tasks such as forestry support (applying for grants) and monitoring forest laws.

What is a small private forest?

Small private forest refers to forest areas of less than 20 hectares belonging to private forest owners. About 25% of the German forest area is a so-called small private forest and accounts for half of the private forest area. As the owner of a small private forest, one faces particular challenges in exercising the duties and rights of the forest owner economically – especially since there are increasingly many so-called urban forest owners in the heir generation. These live far away from their forest property and have no to little experience in managing forest property.

Are there associations of private forest owners?

Yes, many forest owners are organized in forestry associations (FZus), also called forest owners’ associations (WBV) or forest management associations (FBG), depending on the region. They support individuals in the management of the forest. They help with all questions concerning forest conversion, timber sales and issues related to forest damage. They also arrange contact with service providers and state foresters. The latter can also be used to apply for subsidies.

Which forester is responsible for me?

In most federal states, there is a division of responsibilities for forestry support. Depending on the topic you need help with, contact one of them.

The forestry associations (FZus) advise you on silviculture and take care of the economic side of forest management. This means that FZus foresters will meet with you on site to discuss silvicultural options in your forest. They also organize service providers for planting, maintenance, thinning or harvesting.

The state forest administration, on the other hand, is responsible for sovereign tasks. This is, for example, everything that has to do with subsidies, such as the application and control of subsidy measures. But even if a forest owner does not remove his beetle trees or does not reforest his land for years after damage, the foresters of the forest administration can take action.

In a few German states, the care of private forests is also taken over by the state forestry offices. This is done in so-called unified forestry offices.

I live far from my forest. What can I do in case of storm damage?

Forestry organizations often warn their members in advance when a storm is expected. Weather data and government severe weather warnings can also be monitored. Modern remote sensing technology is also providing ever greater assistance. Monitoring can be carried out using specially processed satellite data. Storm damage can be easily seen from above. If damage has occurred and you are a member of a forestry association, you can contact the responsible forester. The forester can then take care of the removal of the wood on behalf of the forest owner.

How can I recognize bark beetle infestation?

If a tree shows bark beetle damage, the beetle has usually been active for some time and has also infested other trees. There are various signs by which infested trees can be recognized on site:

  • On site, freshly infested beetle trees can be recognized by brown bore dust, which can be found at the base of the trunk or under bark scales. To recognize this requires a good eye and is usually only possible after long periods of good weather.
  • Fine resin droplets, which can be seen on the trunk as glistening dots, can also be an indication of bark beetle infestation. However, resin flow can also have other causes. Does the resin look fresh or has the tree been resinous for years? You may also be able to detect a mechanical injury.
  • A clear sign is when the bark of the tree falls off. A large quantity of young beetles has then already left the tree and it must be assumed that surrounding trees are infested. However, if a tree has been dead for some time and no longer has green bark that the beetles could colonize, it may not be dangerous for bark beetle reproduction and does not necessarily need to be removed.
  • A large amount of dropping needles or a red-brown needle discoloration are usually signs of a dying conifer tree that cannot be overlooked. From a distance, this is the best indication of a beetle tree. Care should be taken with larch. This type of conifer loses all of its needles every fall, which previously turned a beautiful shade of yellow. This is a natural process that has led many a forest owner to wrong conclusions.

Many forest owners are not on site. They have the possibility to detect infested trees via highly accurate satellite maps. From above, the damage is visible more quickly than from below, as the trees are already dead at the top while the lower branches still bear full green. The GPS coordinates can then be passed on to the forestry association, which can take care of the removal of the beetle tree.

How do you manage a forest?

It is always advisable to have a trained forestry expert take stock of the forest stand: How old are the trees, which tree species are in the forest? Is there any forest damage? Then further management must be planned. This includes determining which trees are ripe to be cut and where maintenance is needed in areas with young trees. In the course of climate change, it should be examined whether the tree species composition is climate-stable or whether forest conversion will be necessary so that sustainable forestry can be practiced.

What is sustainable forestry?

The principle of sustainability can be traced back to Hans Carl von Carlowitz, the Saxon chief miner, who 300 years ago called for “sustainable” forest management in his seminal work “Sylvicultura oeconomica”, in which no more wood is harvested than will grow back again. He himself summarized the goals of sustainable forestry policy in his epoch-making work thus:

“The economy has to serve the welfare of the community. It is obligated to a careful treatment of the benevolent nature and bound to the responsibility for future generations.”

Today, the definition goes beyond the early descriptions as natural, (wood) quantity or (forest) area sustainability. The modern principle of sustainability includes a wide range of economic, ecological and social components.

Which trees should I plant?

Which tree species are the right ones for your own forest depends on several things. The most important criteria are the location (i.e. the soil and geology) and the climate (especially the annual precipitation and mean temperature). This determines how much water the tree will have available, how good its nutrient supply will be, and what temperatures it will have to cope with. Climate and location can vary greatly even within Germany – from shallow rendzines on calcareous gravels in a wine-growing region to hard-to-root austere clays to bogs in the precipitation-rich Alps. A general statement for the tree species of the future is therefore not possible.

The forestry administrations of the federal states offer information material on suitable tree species and sometimes also risk maps. It is worth taking a look at www.waldwissen.net!

It is considered certain that spruce, due to the dry summers, and pine, due to the rising temperatures, will already now and in the future massively lose suitable cultivation area.

The spectrum of native tree species can be supplemented with proven guest tree species such as Douglas fir, red oak and sweet chestnut.

If the forest owner knows which trees cope well with the soil and climate on his land, he can take other criteria into account when selecting the tree species. What is the growth performance of the tree species? What about the usability and marketability of the wood? Does the litter of the tree improve the soil or acidify it? What species diversity can be found in this tree species and what is its conservation value?

Depending on how important these questions are for the forest owner, he can make his personal tree species selection for his forest.

What does forest conversion mean for my private forest?

Even if you only own a small piece of forest, it means you have a responsibility to preserve it for future generations.

Therefore, you should ask yourself the critical question of how stable your forest is with regard to damage from storms or insect damage. Is it equipped for dry and warm summers and extreme weather events, or are measures needed to increase its stability? Are the trees too dense because nothing has been done in the forest for a long time? Are the crowns only small and weakly formed as a result? Is there already damage from beetles or wind? Is your forest mixed or does it consist mainly of one tree species? Are the tree species in your forest appropriate for the site? Are there young trees from natural regeneration in your forest and does it consist of site-appropriate tree species?

Many of these questions are difficult to answer without prior knowledge. However, they are crucial in assessing whether forest conversion or maintenance or thinning is required.

Forests that have become unstable due to lack of maintenance can be stabilized by removing trees and can also still be positively influenced in their tree species composition.

However, if the tree species composition is completely unsuitable for this location and the challenges of climate change, and if the natural regeneration is also not sustainable, then the introduction of other tree species becomes necessary. The forest is converted.

Here it is advisable to seek professional support for forest conversion. The forestry associations offer advice and forest maintenance contracts for this purpose.

Is there government funding available for forest conversion?

Yes, the forest owner is subsidized by the state for the sustainable conversion to a climate-stable forest. The amount and exact form of the subsidy can vary from state to state in Germany. The local state forestry authorities will help with the application for the subsidies.

What is a topographic map?

A topographic map can also be described as a contour map. It is a map that shows the elevation differences and other features of the terrain, such as roads, rivers, lakes, forests, buildings, and other characteristics of the landscape. Contour lines are used to represent the elevation changes on the map, and they are spaced according to the degree of steepness or slope of the terrain. Topographic maps are very useful in various fields, including hiking, surveying, urban planning, and environmental management.

What is a heat map?

A heat map can also be described as a density map or a hotspot map. It is a visual representation of data where values are shown as colors on a map. Heat maps are commonly used to display the density or intensity of a phenomenon, such as the distribution of crime in a city or the concentration of website clicks on a web page. The colors on the map range from cool to warm hues, with warmer colors indicating higher values or greater density, and cooler colors indicating lower values or lower density. Heat maps are used in various fields, including business, healthcare, and social sciences.

What is cadastral data?

Cadastral data can also be described as land registry data or real estate data. It is information that describes land ownership, property boundaries, and the value and use of real estate. Cadastral data is used by government agencies, property developers, and real estate professionals for various purposes, such as land management, taxation, and urban planning. The data can include details about cadastral parcels, buildings, easements, and other features of the land.

FAQ about WoodsApp for Forest Owners

In which federal states can I find official parcel data?

Unfortunately, the official parcel data is not yet freely available for all federal states. An overview of the federal states that provide this data can be found here. For these states, you can find your official parcels in WoodsApp.

For the other federal states, you can temporarily fix your parcel “by hand” on the map. To do this, fill out all fields in the WoodsApp parcel search up to and including the Gemarkung. WoodsApp will then guide you through the rest of the process.

Why can’t I find my official parcel?

This can have several reasons:

  • You are searching in a federal state or in a region where the parcel data is not freely available. You can find more information about the corresponding federal states here.
  • According to official data, your parcel is not classified as “forest”. We only process parcels with the usage type “forest” in WoodsApp.
  • Your parcel could, in rare cases, already be linked to another user’s account. If you believe this is the case, you can contact your forestry association or contact our support (woodsapp@bitapps.fi).

Why are some maps and functions grayed out and not usable?

When you start with WoodsApp, the basic features of the FREE version are initially available. You can get more features by upgrading your account to SMART through a monthly or annual subscription. If you want to do this, tap the “Upgrade WoodsApp” button in the “More” module.

What features are available after upgrading to SMART?

You can see which functions the WoodsApp offers for the FREE and SMART user in the overview.

The main functions for the SMART user are:

  • Adding any number of parcels
  • Activation of additional maps: vitality, map notes, cadastral map, aerial photo (Google Maps)
  • Create map notes
  • Sharing map notes with your forest organizations

What is a forest organization?

By forestry organization we mean both the forestry associations/FZus (WBV, FBG, etc.) and forestry service providers as well as private and municipal forestry operations.

What is a “Forstwirtschaftlicher Zusammenschluss”?

Forstwirtschaftlicher/Forstlicher Zusammenschluss (FZus) is a collective term for forest owners’ associations (WBV), forest management associations (FBG), forest associations (FV) and similar associations. Since there are different designations here throughout Germany and in other German-speaking countries, we always refer to a FZus. 

What is a forestry service provider?

A forestry service provider in the sense of WoodsApp is a service company that offers comprehensive advice, analogous to a forest association (planting to timber sales).

What is meant by a “private forestry company”?

  • “Private forestry operations” are privately, municipally, or church-owned operations.
  • We define “private forestry operations” as forest owners who manage their land independently and whose size of ownership justifies the use of both the mobile and the web-based WoodsApp. The users do not want to connect to any forestry organization, as they do not seek advice from any organization and organize all work themselves. Nevertheless, they want to use a modern forestry application on their mobile device and on their PC in the office.
  • Municipal forest enterprises can also fall into this category. Municipal forest enterprises are corporate forests and are defined in the Federal Forest Act § 3 paragraph 2 (depending on the federal state, the definition may differ). These are operations whose forest is in the sole ownership of municipalities, municipal associations, special-purpose associations as well as other corporations under public law.

My forestry association is not available in WoodsApp. What can I do?

You might contact your forestry association and tell them that you would like to use WoodsApp.

Your parcel may also be located outside the catchment area of the forestry association.

Does the state extension forester also have access to WoodsApp?

The forest organization can decide for itself who to give access to the WoodsApp web application. It can simply invite people to do so, including the state consulting forester. This gives the latter access to the parcels and the map notes and, of course, to the current map material (e.g. vitality).

How up-to-date are the aerial images?

The aerial image in WoodsApp comes from Google and is as up-to-date as the satellite view on Google Maps. These images are mostly a few years old.

How up-to-date is the vitality map?

The vitality map is based on highly up-to-date optical satellite data (Sentinel-2) and are updated weekly. The calculation takes place during cloud-free visibility within the vegetation period (May to October).

With these satellite images specially prepared by us, you always have the current condition of your forest in view and can react specifically in critical situations.

The vitality map shows a pink spot in my forest. Do I have to remove the affected trees now?

The vitality map shows areas where the trees show signs of stress. These can be surveyed via the optical back radiation of the leaf cells. The stress can have various causes, e.g. drought, disease (ash shoot dieback) or infestation by insects.

Therefore, the trees do not have to show acute damage. However, inspection of the trees would be advisable. Spruce stands should be checked first in “beetle years” here.

How can I contact my forest organization?

To contact your forestry organization, it must be registered with WoodsApp. Then you have three different ways to contact them: Email, phone and the chat function.

Who can see my map notes?

Map notes are seen only by you and those forestry organizations with whom you have shared your particular note.

Who sees my parcels and parcel data?

First of all, only you as the forest owner can see your parcels. Once you have connected to a forest organization, they can also see your data. Other forest owners or forest organizations do not have access to your personal data.

FAQ about WoodsApp for Forest Organizations

I run a forest organization and would like to use WoodsApp. How can I register with WoodsApp?

As a forest organization, you can register with WoodsApp here and find more information.

FAQ about WoodsApp for Forestry Service Providers / Contractors

Can I use WoodsApp as a forestry service provider?

If you are a forestry service provider offering comprehensive advice (planting to timber sales), you can also use WoodsApp in the web version by registering your organization. You will then appear as a forestry service provider next to the forestry associations as a connection option for the forest owner in the mobile app.

FAQ about WoodsApp for Private and Municipal Companies

As a private or municipal forestry operation, can I also use the web-based app?

Yes, the private and municipal forestry operations manage their areas themselves. Therefore, you can use the web-based WoodsApp variant for your operation. To register your organization, click here.