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Together for the forest of the future

Ferdinand picks up tree trunk after tree trunk with his grappling tongs, swings them over the basket in front of his machine and loads them there. All virtually, of course. The 24-year-old sits in a so-called harvester simulator, VR goggles in front of his eyes, both hands highly concentrated on the switches. Then he rolls off down a narrow forest path full of obstacles. On the screen in front of him, his buddies from the Upper Franconia Rural Youth watch how he does. Very well, says David Rockstroh, who is in charge of the stand: "You can tell he works regularly in the forest."

Ten fingers, 34 buttons on the timber harvester

There are 34 buttons to operate in the virtual harvester, a timber harvesting machine. "It's a coordination task, not everyone can do it," says David Rockstroh. "Normally, you learn how to do it right on the machine in the field, and every mistake is expensive. Here, you basically can't go wrong."

A tree full of promise

The simulator is one of the most sought-after offerings in Hall 27, where the German forestry industry has set up a 500-square-meter industry booth with half a dozen hands-on stations. A rowing machine allows visitors to row trees for reforestation. A bouldering wall with three surfaces attracts children in particular. On a promise tree, fairgoers can pin paper hearts with the promises they make to the forest. "We always want to collect trash," Emma and Christian have written on their hearts. "I'll plant trees myself," Elena, Annabell and Elisa resolve.

Defoliation in the evening

Several dozen slips of paper hang from the branches, yet the tree doesn't look all that full after five days of mass. "That's because we keep taking down slips of paper in the evening," explains Arno Fillies, who as project coordinator has been designing and overseeing the Green Week stand of the forestry sector since 2017. "Otherwise, we would have run out of space long ago."

How the conversion to a mixed forest is to succeed

Around the "forest arena" - an event pavilion with forest pictures and a sky made of net fabric panels - numerous information panels explain how the German forest is to be further developed from a pure coniferous forest to a healthy mixed forest, what significance the forest has for the climate and what all can be built from wood. "That's what we want people to take away with them: What a multi-talent wood is as a climate-friendly raw material and what instruments can be used to succeed in forest conversion," says Johannes Schmitt, managing director of the German Forestry Council (DFWR).

Healthy forest needs time to grow

Every morning from ten o'clock, forest educators look after the school classes that come to the stand every half hour and test their knowledge on the marble run or take a virtual look at the effects of climate change, forest fires or storms with 3D glasses. A class plays against each other as "Man," "Time" or "Forest" and steals wooden sticks from each other. But the "human" group gets to take twice as many at a time, robbing the forest of energy and time to grow. "That's totally unfair!" shouts a ten-year-old in the middle of the game. The evaluation follows after the game. The motto of the booth is: "Together! For the forest of the future."

Visitors can find hands-on activities about the forest in Hall 27.

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