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Streaky, former hornbeam coppice
Niederwald near Schoden / Rhineland-Palatinate, rash mainly from hazel, April 2011

Niederwald is the name for a forest made of stick rash .


While the use and promotion of stick erosion was already known in the Stone Age, coppice forests were created in the Iron Age when trees were repeatedly felled and thus regenerative vegetation prevailed. In Central Europe, these regenerative trees are mainly oak , hornbeam , linden , maple , ash and hazel , which are felled in a cycle of 10 to 30 years on a single trunk or in plots as required. This creates a light and inhomogeneous area, which consists of shrub-like trees or bushes about 3 to 10 m high. The regeneration then takes place from the root stocks and stumps that have remained in the soil , sometimes also from root spawn . Coppice forests come in many variations, depending on their use and location. Types of coppice are among others the Siegerland Hauberg and the Lohhecken of the Rhenish Slate Mountains.

Tree species

The rejuvenation in the coppice takes place exclusively from stick rash. The transition to the central forest can be seen where rejuvenation can also take place by letting individual core growths (so-called Lassreisel) stand. Where rejuvenation has for centuries been exclusively due to the erosion of the canes, the stands that have arisen from overaged canes are usually slower than the respective location would allow.

The coppice forest management has particularly promoted the tree species that grow well from the cane, z. B. hornbeam, linden or hazel. Oak, poplar or birch, on the other hand, are less likely to decide. Even light demanding species such as rowan , Sorbus aria , wild service tree , sorb , wild cherry , birch , ash or aspen , some of the Vorwald companies (clearings, successional areas and forest edges) or the hedges attributable to enter into low forests or resulting from coppice Insists more often. The herb flora is also more strongly represented in coppice forests than in high forests because of the more favorable lighting conditions. In places, stocks of black alder (on wet locations) or sweet chestnut (predominantly in wine-growing areas) were cultivated as coppice forests.

In the French department of Isère and in the south of England, coppice forestry with sweet chestnuts can still be found, while in the Swiss canton of Ticino experiments with chestnut coppice forests for valuable wood production.


The cut wood was mostly used as firewood, hence the alternative name Hauwald . Charcoal burning also played a major role until the 19th century . As an additional use, Lohrinden extraction was often practiced until the 1960s ; the tannin-containing bark was removed from the freshly hammered oak sticks with a spoon and from the thinner oak sticks with a bark hammer and then dried. The customers were the local tanneries . The logs were felled in the spring before the leaves began to shoot.

In the Rhenish Slate Mountains, e.g. B. the area of ​​the Ahreifel or the Ösling (Luxembourg), the oaks were peeled standing up to Reichhöhe (at the time of the greatest sap flow, i.e. until the end of May) and only then felled. Likewise in the Siegerland Haubergswirtschaft .

The freshly hewn fields were partly used for agriculture until the stick swings were too high ( Röderwirtschaft ). This type of use was largely discontinued in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries. In the Siegerland the agricultural use of the Hauberge was temporarily resumed at the end of the war and in the post-war period to reduce hunger.

Today's conditions

While in Germany less than 1% of the forest area is managed as coppice, the extent is much higher in other countries (in 1963, for example, it was 33% in France).

Today only very few stocks are managed as coppice forests in Central Europe; most of them are either being transferred to the high forest or, as was often the case until the 1990s, converted to coniferous wood. Most of the overgrown or transferred stocks are today (2005) between 50 and 80 years old. Tree species composition and herbaceous flora will in most cases change in the long term in the transferred stands, depending on the location and management.

In the Siegerland, the Hauberg economy continues to be of great importance, even if Hauberge has been converted into high forests since the end of the 19th century. Alfred Becker found that in 2000 there were still around 6,000 to 7,000 hectares of coppice forest in the Siegerland. The reason lies in the cooperative ownership structure. Shareholders cut their relatively small Hauberge for their own firewood supply. Since the trees are not too tall, complex harvesting methods, machines or specialist knowledge are not required. In the past, an ax, scoop spoon and Haubergsknipp were enough , now power saws are also used. In the Fellinghäuser Hauberg, for historical reasons, the Hauberg continues to be operated in the same way as it has been for centuries.

In some areas, the maintenance or resumption of coppice forest operations is promoted in order to preserve this historical form of forest use and its typical vegetation on a limited area. One example of this is the coppice forest in parts of the Jasmund National Park on the Baltic Sea island of Rügen . The predominant tree species here is the common beech , which is only able to shoot shoots at this point due to the particularly favorable climatic and soil conditions. Even with the recently increasing energy wood management, experiments are again being made with coppice forests, because the fast-growing tree species hardly require forest care and quickly produce biomass. A modern, comparable form of biomass production is short rotation plantation .

Biodiversity and Aesthetics

In all forms of the coppice, the light penetrates more strongly into the herbaceous layer . "The great scenic attraction of these types of farms lies primarily in the composition of the wood species and in their property as a transition to the field or to the gloomy forest landscape." Both in their aesthetic appearance they differ from the high forest and in terms of their biodiversity . The Central European coppice stands belong to 14 forest communities . Compared with the other forest types evidenced for instance for Switzerland that the Niederwald (in the book free deciduous forest communities wood bedstraw -Hainbuchen mixed forest , Kronwicken -Eichenmischwald, vetchlings -Eichenmischwald, lime mixed forest) is very significantly over-represented. In snow cornices -Buchenwald is however to be expected here with fewer plant species than in the high forest.

See also


  • Renate Bärnthol: Nieder- und Mittelwald in Franconia: Forest management forms from the Middle Ages (=  publications and catalogs of the Franconian Open Air Museum ). Franconian Open Air Museum, Bad Windsheim 2003, ISBN 978-3-926834-54-6 .
  • Jost Trier : wood. Etymologies from the Niederwald. Cologne and Graz 1952 (= Münster research , 6). Pp. 95-106.
  • Hans Hausrath : History of German silviculture. From its beginnings to 1850 . Series of publications by the Institute for Forest Policy and Regional Planning at the University of Freiburg. Hochschulverlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1982, ISBN 3-8107-6803-0
  • Richard B. Hilf: The forest. Forests and pastures in the past and present - Part One [Reprint]. Aula, Wiebelsheim 2003, ISBN 3-494-01331-4
  • Hartmut Kleinschmit: People in the forest. Forest uses from the Middle Ages to today in pictures , ed. from the Lower Saxony State Forests , Husum 2007.
  • Erwin Manz: Lower forests on the left bank of the Rhine. Evidence of a historical form of forest use . (Rhenish landscapes; 44). Neusser Druck und Verlag, Neuss 1995, ISBN 3-88094-780-5
  • ders .: Vegetation and local differentiation of the coppice forests in the Nahe and Moselle regions . (Pollichia book; 28). Pollichia, Bad Dürkheim 1993, ISBN 3-925754-27-X
  • Wilhelm Müller-Wille: The Niederwald in West Germany , in: Contributions to forest geography in Westphalia . (Spieker, 27), pp. 7-38. Geographical Commission for Westphalia, Münster 1980 Download
  • Wilhelm Stölb: Forest aesthetics: About forestry, nature conservation and the human soul . Kessel publishing house, Remagen-Oberwinter 2005

Web links

Commons : Niederwald  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Heinz Ellenberg , 1996: Vegetation of Central Europe with the Alps in an ecological, dynamic and historical perspective. ISBN 3-8252-8104-3
  2. Heinz Ellenberg: Vegetation Central Europe and the Alps , Ulmer, Stuttgart 1963, p. 44
  3. K. Vanselow: On the historical development of the forms of rejuvenation in Germany. Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt 82: 257-269
  4. ^ A b Alfred Becker: Historischer Hauberg. Retrieved October 18, 2018 (German).
  5. ^ Arnold Vietinghoff-Riesch : "Forest landscape design", after Stölb, Waldästhetik, p. 250