The state of Hesse is located in the center of the Federal Republic of Germany. Forty-two percent or 9000 km of Hesse is covered with forests. Such high forest coverage was not always the situation. At the end of the 18th century forests were devastated due particularly to overexploitation for fuel wood and forest grazing. Forest cover in Hesse had been reduced to 25%. The existing forests were described as stands with many gaps, the trees only being usable as fuel wood, and unsuitable for use as lumber. The soil was exhausted. At that time foresters recognized the situation to be critical. They demanded that forests should be managed and used according to explicit plans and in a sustainable manner. Consequently, a principle of sustainability was developed and became the credo of sound forest management (Hessisches Ministerium fur Umwelt, Landwirtschaft und Forsten, 2000). Over the course of time, the demand for supplying timber and other demands were made on these forests. As urbanization increased, recreational and watershed protection functions became increasingly more important, especially in the last few decades. These functions are not limited to urban forests. Forests surrounding towns and cities, although not classified as urban forests in the narrow sense of the definition, are nevertheless supposed to fulfill productive recreational and protective functions— functions that can often conflict. This chapter describes a system that demonstrates how multipurpose forestry can work to create an environment that also helps connect urban and rural areas into a more integrated system.

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