Together for the forest

Planting trees in the Black Forest

200Working hours

We regard the Black Forest as our home and it is a continual source of inspiration for us. It is where all our products and new ideas are created and is ever close to our hearts. For that reason, it is only natural that we would want to give something back and why we organised a "Black Forest Day" again this year for the third time. Together with other companies in the region, our team spent a day with the Feldberg “House of Nature” reforesting a slope in the Klusenhütte forest – an area that was previously devastated by the bark beetle. 


The branches of dark fir trees, crystal clear streams, golden sunlight – on our way to the meeting point in the Klusenhütte forest, the Black Forest shows itself from its most beautiful side. It's a special day for us: Black Forest Day. This is when we go out to plant trees every year. We are already expected by the team of foresters and forestry workers from the district forestry administration of Breisgau in the Black Forest highlands, which we are supporting today with our campaign. One by one, everyone arrives who has agreed to spend the day with us in the forest despite the forecast of rain. In addition to the HORL team, there are employees from Jobrad, Lexware and Mayka, who are also eager to plant trees. "It's actually my day off," says Jana from Mayka, "but I said I'd definitely be there. It's a good thing, we're happy to help. And I thought our office dog Cody needed a change of scene."



"Today we are reforesting a slope a little further up, where the bark beetle has ravaged," explains forester Jens from the Feldberg House of Nature at the Southern Black Forest Nature Conservation Centre as he welcomes us. The damaged trees have already been removed in advance so that we have a clear field. In the light rain, we set off for the slope that we will tackle first. Jens and his colleagues Jens-Uwe and Sebastian from the district office of Breisgau in the Black Forest highlands have already prepared everything: Hundreds of saplings are waiting to be planted by us.

"We are planting silver fir, highland spruce and sycamore maple," explains forest engineer Sebastian. "We don't need to plant any beech, which is native to the area, as it returns naturally." The various saplings are planted each in two rows – alternating in turn between two rows of silver fir, highland spruce and sycamore maple. On the one hand, so that it results in a mixed mountain forest, and on the other, because the different tree species grow at different rates and are therefore easier to maintain in rows. Before planting, however, the roots of the saplings have to be trimmed so that they will adapt more quickly to their new environment.


The saplings are now ready, but how do you actually plant a tree? The foresters demonstrate to us how to do it properly. "We plant them at an angle," explains Sebastian. "We first dig a hole then push open a small angle and press the plant into the ground." He then pushes back the loosened soil to fill the hole and presses it down with his feet. "Now the plant is in the ground and it can grow." And even though the rain has taken its toll on us, the saplings are very happy because they have nice moist soil to spread their roots in.

The first of us descend the slope equipped with hoopoe hoes, while others carry the trimmed saplings down in buckets. Together we work our way up the slope from the bottom, using poles as a guide to keep the rows straight. Janina from Jobrad is planting silver firs. She laughs: "I never imagined it would be quite this steep, but it's a great adventure – I’m enjoying it no end."

In fact, it is the steep slope that makes it particularly challenging to reforest. The wind and rain don't exactly make it any easier. Freddy from our HORL marketing team is beaming as he trudges up the slope, completely wrapped in yellow rain coveralls. "The weather could be better, but I’m having a lot of fun."


As much fun as it is to plant the little saplings and see the bare slope gradually colonised by more and more green spots, the background to our planting campaign is a serious one. The Black Forest is equally as endangered by climate change as other parts of the world. In order to prepare the forest as well as possible for the impending changes, two things are essential, as forest engineer Sebastian emphasises: "Firstly, we need to develop resilient forests with a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees, because mixed forests are better at adapting to a changing climate." He points to the three different tree species that we are planting today. "Secondly, there of course needs to be a rethink at the social level and more efforts to reduce CO2 emissions around the world. And the sooner, the better!"


The rain subsided and the mountain of seedlings has become smaller and smaller. How many trees have we planted today? "750," estimates Jens. "We can definitely be satisfied with that!" We next attach clips to the top shoots of the silver firs, known as "terminal shoots". These ensure that deer are not tempted to bite off the shoots and thus hinder the growth of the trees. After that, it is slowly time for us to leave the slopes behind us. But we are not leaving the Black Forest straight away, because the foresters invite us to join them for a barbecue at the Klusenhütte. We are only too happy to warm ourselves by the fire and reflect on the day together. "I think every tree counts and our contribution counts. And working out there together it was just fun," smiles Petra from Lexware. "That's what I've experienced today, that there's loads of enthusiasm." We drive back to Freiburg exhausted, with cold feet but big smiles on our faces. Now we are already looking forward to watching our saplings grow into a forest over the next few years.


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