Proceeding of the State Forest Service of Baden-Württemberg after "Lothar" – Example of a strategy to cope with storm damage

Key points of the strategy of the State Forest Service of Baden-Württemberg after the storm event "Lothar" in December 1999 as example for an approach of a state forest administration after a storm taking into account given frame conditions:

  • Steering the harvesting and logging of the timber
  • Work safety
  • Careful harvesting and logging
  • Order of harvesting (see fact sheet)
  • Funding of private forest owners
  • Economic efficiency

Chart : strategy – development

Steering the harvesting

Goal Strategy
The harvesting of the storm damaged timber is executed taking into account the local conditions.>The steering of the harvesting operations of storm damaged timber in the state forest and the practical support of the community and private forests is organised in decentralised way by the state forest offices.

Central institutions restrict themselves to setting goals and priorities and to offer services and support for the local authorities (forest offices and districts) in superordinate areas (long-distance sales, timber hauling, technique of wet storage, acquisition of workforce).


  • Takes into account regional conditions withing a state (structure of forest ownership; tree species composition; amount of damaged timber after "Lothar") and regional "on-site-strategies" in coping with the storm damage.
  • Thus problems can be better solved on-site taking into account local experiences.
  • Measures, limiting the freedom of action of the single district-forester or head of forest office are often not practicable and usually do not reach a consensus.


  • Differing ideas and a lack of arrangements concerning the degree of support between the forest offices and the higher authorities
  • A lack of control by the head of the administration of the adherence to rules and goals.
  • Underestimation of the mental burden of the collaborators when dealing with the storm damage by the head of the administration

Experiences and evaluation:

The strategy of decentralised steering – based on the organisation of the ongoing management activities – has proven to be successful from the point of view of the head of the administration as well as of the collaborators. However, the employees see the necessity to regulate the responsibilities and the support by the central authorities in more clear way and to establish an increased guiding of the collaborators as well as control-mechanisms.

Work safety

Goal Strategies
Avoid accidents when harvesting storm damaged timber>Work safety of the forest workers is of highest priority. The following measures have been realised:


  • Offers for courses in accident prevention
  • Force machine employment to support forest workers
  • Introduction of a time wage for harvesting storm-damaged timber (state forest)
  • Equipment of forest workers with an emergency-call system


  • Significant drop of the number of accidents in the state-forest below the rate of the years before.


  • Despite preventive measures numerous accidents including 25 deaths in the state of Baden-Württemberg (all forest ownerships and contractors)
  • Measures were not really successful in private and community forests.
  • Support by machines of the harvesting operations was not always possible.

Experiences and evaluation:

The efforts to increase work safety paid off in the state forest despite some aspects that can be improved (e.g. support by machines). Outsite the state forest the forest service has to find solutions together with the accident insurers to reduce the rate of accidents.

Careful harvesting

Goal Strategies
When harvesting storm-damaged timber damages on solils and forest stands due to crossings could be prevented>Despite timber on the whole forest area, careful harvesting on storm damaged areas is of priority. Rules how to respect careful harvesting have been established immediately after the storm.


  • No crossings on the total area of storm damaged stands to harvest timber, deskew damaged trees or clear areas – also in difficult situations.
  • It was prohibited to fall below a distance between strip roads of 20m (flats) or 30m (slopes). Existing strip roads had to be used.


  • In most cases careful harvesting was respected as important goal.


  • Rules for careful harvesting have not always been respected. In the conflict between "work safety – careful harvesting – economic efficiency", careful harvesting has not always looked upon as important.
  • To find existing strip roads and to implement the rules for contractors was not always possible.

Experiences and evaluation:

Careful harvesting – in normal forest operations self-evident – was, when harvesting storm-damaged timber, often neglected for many reasons. The hierarchy of the goals when coping with future storm events has to be more precisely formulated by the forest service and respecting the implemented rules has to be forced.

Funding of private forest owners

Goal Strategies
Financial load on private forest owners due to pre-financing harvesting of storm-damaged timber is significantly reduced.>Harvesting and sale of storm-damged timber has priority in community and private forests.


  • The strategy has been accepted and implemented by the employees of the state forest service. In the year 2000 74% of the harvested timber in private forests has been sold, whilst only 40% of the harvested timber in the state forest and 65% in community forests have been sold.

Experiences and evaluation:

The strategy has been successful due to the agreement and the engagement of the collaborators.

Economic efficiency of all measures

Goal Strategies
Even in the situation of a catastrophe, economic efficiency is a guideline for the work in the state forest of Baden-Württemberg.>Utilisation of the own labour capacity when harvesting storm-damaged timber and acting economically efficient was the guideline for all measures.


The utilisation of the own labour capacity was achieved, the framework conditions for the implementation can be improved. The economic results in the year of the storm were not satisfying due to the circumstances for managing the storm damage. When interpreting the operational results, the activities of the state forest in favour of other forest owners and the general public have to be taken into account.

Forest Crises Management Advisory Guide

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