The Meaning for People

Die Buchen und die Menschen 2

 

An oil painting by Franz Fersch senior, 1983

 

The Bavaria Beech: a modern legend

The late Franz Fersch senior, local chronicler from Pondorf, wrote a story about the Bavaria Beech. It tells of the Lord of the Manor of Stenzenhof, who sets forth with the crusaders after vowing to his family, under a little beech tree, that he will return. But he is lost without trace. Some time later, a knight comes to court the Lord’s wife but she dismisses him brusquely. “The beech tree by which I said farewell to my husband must live a thousand years before I will consent to remarry as long as my first marriage has not been parted by death.” After this, the knight abandons the Lady of the Manor. Later, rumours spread that the old Lord had returned and, being unable to meet his family, buried treasure under the beech tree. The greedy new owner of the manor, in an attempt to retrieve the treasure, fell, broke both legs and froze to death in the icy cold. His body wasn’t found until the following Spring. The legend tells that centuries later one could still hear the clattering of horses’ hooves and the clanking of a knight’s armour in the branches.

The Bavaria Beech was a great attraction for the people from Pondorf and its neighbourhood.

It was a destination for walks and school outings. Family celebrations and picnics took place here and sometimes even wedding parties. Lovers often met in the shade of the tree to carve their initials into its bark.

 

A trip with a new car, 1964

A trip with a new car, 1964

Shepherds near the Bavaria Beech, 1944

Shepherds near the Bavaria Beech, 1944

A family celebration, around 1970

A family celebration, around 1970

The impressive size of the tree trunk, 1992

The impressive size of the tree trunk, 1992

A school outing, around 1960

A school outing, around 1960

Beech trees and mankind

The “Limes Beech” near Gelbelsee, popular with walkers and for school outings.

 

The most common deciduous tree in Germany

If one follows the Altmühltal Panorama Route, or its winding paths through the woods, one is often surrounded by mystical beech woodlands – the “Original European Tree” has influenced the landscape of the Altmühltal Nature Park in many ways. In the county of Eichstätt, it makes up about 30 per cent of the woodland, that is about 15.000 hectares.

Beech trees to visit

The beech woodlands in the region and the impressive solitary trees are both worth a visit – to get to know the “fascination of the beech”.

Relaxation in the forest

The Bavarian Constitution rules that the woodlands of all landowners must remain open to the public for recreation. Here everybody can refuel energy, experience and discover nature at a leisurely pace – free of charge. Especially in built up areas, forests are an indispensible place of recreation. And this is no longer a secret. It has been proved that a visit to the forest is good for the health.

The forest educates

The forest is an ideal spot for education and offers a wealth of adventures and experiences for people of all ages. For children in particular, a trip to the forest offers a wide scope of stimulus and thus encourages lateral thinking and physical development. Educational courses are offered by the “Kipfenberger Buchenpfad” and the “Walderlebniszentrum Schernfeld”

Forest kindergartens

A forest kindergarten has no doors or walls and offers children the most exciting playground possible. In all seasons, children have a wide variety of experience and living space at their disposal In the forests and fields.     (from “Wurzelkinder e.V.”)

In 2020, Altmannstein will also open a forest kindergarten. Lots of kindergarten offer so called “Forest Weeks”.

 

Einzeln stehende Buche auf dem Kernberg oberhalb Gungolding am Altmühltal-PanoramawegWald entspanntGlückliche Waldkinder

 

Functions of a forest

Foto: Toni Mürbeck

Forests give us warmth
Forests store the sun’s warming energy in their wood so we can make use of it. Wood is a renewable resource, an ecological fuel. It only emits the same amount of CO2 as it has extracted from the atmosphere. And it brings an important contribution to renewable energy. Wood is the principal source of renewable bioenergy in Bavaria.

 

 

 

Forests clean up the environment
Forests produce clean drinking water and fresh air. Rainfall seeps into the forest floor, is filtered and stored as if in a sponge. This precious water contains less pollution than water in open country. The trees turn it into CO2 biomass. This means that it is extracted from the atmosphere for decades and stored in the wood. If we use wood on a long term, we slow down climate warming.

 

 

 

Forests offer shelter
Forests provide a habitat for lots of animals and plants. Many of these have developed a symbiosis with trees. Some thrive in the shade, some need tree holes and others feed on acorns, beechnuts or spruce seeds. The diverse structure of the forest creates valuable ecological systems and invaluable homes for animals and plants.

 

 

 

Forests protect us
Forests protect settlements and roads from avalanches, falling rocks, landslides and flooding. They offer shelter and create employment. In the mountains, lots of people are dependent on the forests. More than 1.3 million people live and work in the Bavarian Alpine region. In addition, it is visited by 4.5 million tourists and day-trippers. All need intact and well-functioning mountain forests for protection, recreation and living space.