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Environment

Forests Facing Change

For twenty years, Peter Wohlleben has been caring for a forest in the Eifel Region. It's one of Germany's oldest forests, dating back 4,000 years.

For a long time, people planted spruce here, because it grows fast, making it possible to harvest and sell more timber. But forestry scientist Wohlleben says spruce are no more native to the Eifel than coconut palms are! And so they don't fit in with the ecosystem. Soil organisms and animals in the forest are adapted to living in an environment of beeches and oaks. So Wohlleben has begun planting beeches in the forest again, in hopes that in one or two hundred years a deciduous forest will return. His goal is to foster and preserve biodiversity, the key to a healthy ecosystem. Aachen University is bolstering the ecological restructuring of the forest with scientific studies.

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