Forest cooperative societies: land consolidation of jointly owned community forests in NRW, Germany

Forest cooperative societies: land consolidation of jointly owned community forests in NRW, Germany

Forest land consolidations can enhance the land ownership structure of small-scale private forests and reactivate the forest use.
Waldgenossenschaft (forest cooperative society) : a traditional ownership form of jointly owned community forest

A forest cooperative society (FCS, in German Waldgenossenschaft) is a type of joint private forest ownership, which is generally termed community forest. As such, it is not to be confused with communal forest, which is forest owned by a commune or a town. Community forests have existed in Europe already for centuries in manifold traditional forms and have survived in many regions until today. The main characteristic of community forest compared to other forms of forest ownership is that the owners do not own a particular land parcel of a forest area, but an ideal share of the whole cooperative property, which can be understood as a share of a stock market (Figure 1).

Based on the unique legal framework of the Community Forest Act GWG of NRW, this special land consolidation achieves a legal merger of community forests and private owners into a larger forest cooperative society (Waldgenossenschaft) for the purpose of improving the conditions for forest management and administration, which goes beyond the readjustment of land parcels per single landowner. The degree of the merger and the benefits for collaborative SFM are thus enhanced compared to conventional land consolidations. Various supporting measures, such as road constructions, silvicultural improvements or landscape interventions are included to generate additional sustainable impacts in the region. 

In the federal state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), community forests are an important forest ownership type. The original community forests were based on century-old laws, which were all unified and redefined as forest cooperative societies (FCS) in the Community Forest Act (Gemeinschaftswaldgesetz, GWG) of 1975. Today there exist 270 FCS with circa 42,000 ha and an estimated 17,500 forest owners as shareholders. A specific aspect of the NRW GWG is that it permits a special procedure, based partly on the land consolidation act, to merge several FCS into a new, larger FCS to improve the conditions for forestry and administration. The specificity is that not only a readjustment of land property, but also a merger of ownership is achieved in one procedure. Such a combined procedure can enhance the degree and effect of the FLC even more compared to a conventional consolidation, which essentially reduces only the number of land parcels, but not the number of landowners.

Forest land consolidation Biebertal 2004-2012, Germany (land area ca. 12 ha)
Forest land consolidation GWG Müsen 2005-2009, Germany (merger into 542 ha)
Forest land consolidation: outcomes and impacts
Regiunea de origine
Land NRW, Bezirksregierung Arnsberg
SIMWOOD - FP7 no. 613762, 2013-2017
Domeniu 1 (principal)
Proprietate, cooperare
Managementul pădurilor, silvicultura, servicii ecosistemice, reziliență
Provocare abordată
3. Activarea proprietarilor privați și a cooperativelor de gestionare a pădurilor
Soluție digitală
Țara de origine
Regiunea de origine
Scara de aplicare
Anul de început și de sfârșit
Date de contact
Proprietar sau autor
BRA - Bezirksregierung Arnsberg Dezernat 33 - Ländliche Entwicklung und Bodenordnung
Andreas Peter
InnovaWood asbl
Uwe Kies
References and Resources
Proiectul în cadrul căruia a fost creată această fișă informativă
Rosewood 4.0