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Books with infographics about the forest
We are looking for a Guerrilla Forester

Two books attractively present information on various forests, forests per se and particular tree species. Fascinating fact: planting your own forest is not hard at all.

By Holger Moos

Wie man illegal einen Wald pflanzt © Katapult So what is a forest anyway? Many people associate them with the endless forests of Scandinavia or Canada – or in Germany, a few sizes smaller, the Black Forest or the Bavarian Forest. In Germany, of course, forests are very precisely defined. Since 1975, they have even been defined by law in the Federal Forest Act (Bundeswaldgesetz, also known by its snappy abbreviation BWaldG).
According to this law, forests have three functions: Firstly, a utility function. That means forests can be exploited economically. Secondly, they have a function for the environment and the climate. Forests clean the air and maintain soil fertility, thereby protecting the environment. Thirdly, they have a recreational function. Stressed Germans particularly enjoy unwinding in the forest.
The Federal Forest Act has something surprising to say about the minimum size of a forest. The exact area varies from one federal state to another, but as a rough guide, the minimum size of a forest is half the size of a football pitch. So a forest in Germany can be quite small.


If you want to get involved in protecting the environment and planting forests, there are a various hands-on ways to do it – for example by volunteering with the Bergwaldprojekt association. You can also become a forest owner and plant your own virgin forest. It’s not even that expensive. A square meter of forest in Germany costs an average of just €1.32. That’s €13,200 for a hectare. Indigenous saplings cost less than €5 apiece.
Yet even the penniless can get involved using guerrilla tactics, starting with a sack of walnuts. Walnuts are hardy seeds, quick to sprout and relatively undemanding. These facts and many more can be found in the book Wie man illegal einen Wald pflanzt (How to Plant an Illegal Forest).
Since the Federal Forest Act defines a forest as “any area planted with forest plants“, you can look out for industrial wasteland. If an area of wasteland is at least half the size of a football pitch and overgrown with plants such as brambles, you can ask the competent land survey and registry office to designate it as forest. Brambles are a forest plant – and that’s all it takes. Once wasteland has been designated as forest, it can no longer be simply razed to the ground. If the land is built on, compensation has to be made, which means that the cleared bramble area has to be compensated for by tree planting elsewhere.


Gonstalla: das Waldbuch © oekom As well as these tips for budding foresters, you can pick up plenty of fascinating forest facts, clearly presented in infographics. Russia is the country with the largest forested area. On a world map, the countries that have a combined forested area smaller than Russia’s are shown in a dark colour – leaving Brazil, China and the USA as the only countries to be shown in white. If you wanted to categorise trees in terms of personality types, the maple would be the show-off, the oak the loner and the beech the killer. You also discover which tree was Darwin’s favourite and which tree is used in some places as a living bridge. Reading this book, you also discover why ice cream sticks are made of beech, matches of poplar and pencils of cedar wood.
If you want to find out more about forests, go for Esther Gonstallas’ Waldbuch (Forest Book). It describes in a detailed and readable way all the things forests do, where they face the greatest threats and how they can be protected. This is also an encouraging book, reporting on growing protection areas and Africans who offer hope for the future. “Fifty graphics, fifty sets of complex information about forests past, present and future presented in clear visuals for quick understanding,“ is Susanne Billig’s commendatory summary in a Deutschlandfunk Kultur radio broadcast.
  • Wie man illegal einen Wald pflanzt, p. 90-91 © Katapult
  • Wie man illegal einen Wald pflanzt, p. 126-127 © Katapult
  • Wie man illegal einen Wald pflanzt, p. 160-161 © Katapult
  • Gonstalla: Das Waldbuch, p. 8-9 © oekom
  • Gonstalla: Das Waldbuch, p. 86-87 © oekom
  • Gonstalla: Das Waldbuch, p. 106-107 © oekom

Logo Rosinenpicker © Goethe-Institut / Illustration: Tobias Schrank Wie man illegal einen Wald pflanzt
Greifswald: Katapult, 2021. 176 p.
ISBN: 978-3-948923-18-1
Esther Gonstalla: Das Waldbuch. Alles, was man wissen muss, in 50 Grafiken
München: oekom, 2021. 128 p.
ISBN: 978-3-96238-211-7
You can find this title in our eLibrary Onleihe.