Post-fire regeneration of pine-dominated forests in Brandenburg, Germany

Project description

The occurrence of forest fires in Germany is increasingly favored by the advancing climate change. In order to future-proof German forests against climate change and the increasingly frequent forest fires, the “mechanism” of the forest after a fire must be understood. The dissertation presented here is conducted in the framework of the ErWin project, in which new findings and knowledge about forest fires and how to deal with them are generated. The work will focus in particular on the regeneration of vegetation after the fires in Treuenbrietzen (2018). This regeneration includes different sub-aspects that will be highlighted in the thesis: vegetation inventory, the condition of woody species, and the resilience of native tree species to wildfire and conditions of climate change.

The general vegetation inventory includes different classes of damage where humans and fire have had different impacts on the original pine plantations. Classes range from standing deadwood in the full fire zone without forestry intervention to the fully cleared, ploughed fire area. The vegetation inventory captures mosses, herbaceous plants, tree seedlings and saplings, living and standing dead trees from the original stand as well as existing deadwood. In addition to documenting the species composition, attention is also paid to the health status of existing old trees and the browsing damage to young plants. Since deadwood also provides an important substrate and microhabitat for successional vegetation, it is also documented with regard to plant growth and the harborage of animals.

The forest ecosystem in Germany also has a high economic value, so the future viability of subsequent woody plants or the woody plants to be introduced in the course of forest conversion must be examined to ensure the establishment and maintenance of a healthy forest system. But which characteristics of a tree species can be described as future-proof? In the context of this work, the broad term “future-proof” is restricted to the changing climatic conditions in the ongoing climate change. More precisely, it is about the increasingly frequent periods of drought and heat, which are already putting various tree species under great stress and thus making them vulnerable to pests such as the bark beetle. At KIT Campus Alpin, different tree species native to German forests will be subjected to a climatic stress test with heat and drought stress. In the planned series of experiments, the germination capacity and the resistance of the seedlings will be determined under the described conditions. Ultimately, the comprehensive research in this dissertation should not only lead to new insights into the dynamics in a disturbed forest ecosystem, but also to new knowledge for future forestry, enabling a better interaction between humans and nature.

Administrative data

Supervisor: Dr. Somidh Saha
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Schmidtlein (KIT BGU)
Related projects: ErWiN
Doctoral students at ITAS: see Doctoral studies at ITAS


Katrin Fröhlich
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-26639