STIHL has donated €10,000 to the "Forest School for Biological Diversity" set up by the Bergwaldprojekt e.V. (mountain forest project association). In cooperating with Bergwaldprojekt, STIHL supports forest training courses for young students in Baden-Württemberg. The idea behind the hands-on courses in nature conservancy projects is to heighten the participants' awareness of sustainability and biodiversity. To mark the International Day of Forests on March 21, STIHL and the Bergwaldprojekt announced in Waiblingen the start of their cooperation agreement. Moreover, STIHL has supported the Bergwaldprojekt with annual donations in kind since 2005.
The Bergwaldprojekt organizes project weeks in the forest for groups of youths and young adults. Presenting the cheque, Dr. Bertram Kandziora, STIHL executive board chairman, referred to the future-oriented aims of the project: "A healthy natural environment and our respectful treatment of it are essential cornerstones for an environmentally sound development of society. The Bergwaldprojekt teaches the young generation the sustainable use of the forest as a natural habitat. This is something that we feel is well worth supporting." The International Day of Forests reminds us of the importance of our forests and calls on us to use them in a resource-conserving way. Stephen Wehner, managing director of the Bergwaldprojekt, said: "Forests stabilize the climate, filter the air we breathe and provide us with drinking water. Consisting of countless symbiotic systems, natural forest communities are the preservers of biodiversity. Forests provide a substantial basis for our existence."
The Bergwaldprojekt forest school contributes to the conservation of the forest as an ecosystem and provides an insight into the challenges of sustainable lifestyles at the same time. The project is sponsored by the Federal Office for Nature Conservation and has a clear educational mandate. Schoolchildren from the 8th grade upwards can learn more about protecting and tending the forest in projects lasting one week. The courses are prepared and subsequently evaluated in the classroom. "It is wonderful to see how young people develop a new attitude towards nature. Entrenched behaviour patterns are examined; the consequences of one's own actions become clear. As the project week progresses one can observe how the youngsters become wrapped up in their activities. Their self-confidence also grows", says Martin Ladach, project leader of the forest school at the Bergwaldprojekt. Dr. Kandziora praised the project's work: "The forest school makes sustainability tangible for young people. Moreover, the groups perform urgently needed work which could not be accomplished without voluntary helpers." The first STIHL-sponsored project in Baden-Württemberg will take place on May 11–17. A second forest school week is to be held in Baden-Württemberg in 2014.