GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – Together with mayors of the neighboring area and representatives of the media, Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Poole and his wife Patricia attended the German Forest Day of the Federal Forestry Office at Vilseck-Heringnohe.
The event provided attendees the opportunity to learn about the biodiversity of the Grafenwoehr training area and what measures are being taken to nurture and sustain it.
To kick off the visit, attendees were briefed about the importance and history of the forest.
The Grafenwoehr military training area with a size of approximately 57,000 acres is a key training area of the U.S. armed forces and multinational operational training in Europe.
“Military use and nature conservation are often seen as a contradiction, but this impression is not correct," said Poole. “Today, the Grafenwoehr Training Area is home to a variety of habitats and retreats with a unique biodiversity, including some 800 endangered species, and all this despite intense military use.”
Due to forestry management, forests of the Grafenwoehr military training area have changed fundamentally in recent decades. In 1970 monotonous pine and spruce pure tree stands filled the training area. These days the training area has been converted into stable mixed forests with species richness.
Leading Forestry Director, Ulrich Maushake, has overseen the Grafenwoehr federal forestry operation for more than 25 years. He and his team are responsible for managing the forest on the training area.
“The secret of our success: United we stand, divided we fall,” said Maushake.
Together, the forest office and USAG Bavaria have worked to increase the biodiversity of the forest for years. They have also implemented countermeasures in case of forest fires caused by military operations and have successfully kept fire damage to a minimum. Animal populations such as red deer are also managed, and beaver and wolf populations are overseen.
“Thanks to forest management we could accomplish great success in the last 25 years,” said Maushake. “Nature always does it better than man, but without help and planning it would take centuries; we intervene and through our intervention we support.”
Intervention includes weeding out trees that are not ecologically valuable to help other plants grow, or utilizing native animals such as the acorn lord, native bird, to spread seeds.
Grafenwoehr Mayor Edgar Knobloch has known the training area for his entire life.
“I see the biodiversity on the military training area has exploded. What was desert-like when I was 10-years-old is now full of green,” said Knobloch. “We must thank the Americans too because they must work on this with us as a team. It's a training ground after all and because of the good cooperation between the forestry office and the U.S. Army the results are exemplary.”
The day ended with an excursion tour through the landscape that gave attendees a chance to see the training area and forest management areas up close.