English Overview


The Association of Forest Site Ecology and Geobotany (in German: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Forstliche Standorts- und Vegetationskunde, abbreviated AFSV) has a long tradition and was boosted by the leadership of prominent forest scientists with international reputation. When established in 1928, foremost forest ecologists such as Prof. Dr. Konrad Rubner were founding members of the association. Beyond classification and syntaxonomy of forest types their geobotanical approach placed an emphasis on investigations of ecology and silvicultural application of results. After an interruption during World War II the society was re-founded in 1954. In 1985 our association was accepted as a member organization of the German Union of Forest Research Organizations (DVFFA; national agency of the IUFRO). Since 2006 the AFSV represents an independent research unit (section) within the DVFFA and is thus part of a larger national and international network. We will be glad to answer your questions.

AFSV, c./o. HAWK Faculty of Resource Management, Büsenweg 1a, D-37077 Göttingen

Chairman: Prof. Dr. Helge Walentowski
Vize-Chairman: Thomas Jensen
Managing Director: Maurice Schwoy

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What is Forest Site Ecology?

The forest site describes the totality of environmental factors affecting plants in their habitats, as far as they are not determined by competition among the plants themselves. The working procedures of forest site survey and forest site mapping have been in constant development. Today processing of geographical data is becoming an important tool in digital site classification.

What is Forest Geobotany?

Geobotany denotes the European tradition of studying the distribution of plant species and vegetation as related to spatial and environmental factors. Sociological Geobotany explains the co-occurrence of different species in forest communities. It comprises forest type classification as well as the study of functional and structural relations of plant species in communities. Ecological Geobotany analyses the environmental factors controlling the occurrence of species and forest communities and studies adaptations and survival strategies of plants. The natural forest communities with their specific tree species combination and typical indicator species groups of the ground layer integrate the complexity of all factors influencing a site. Combined with physiographical site maps they form the foundation of translating ecological regularities into close-to-nature silviculture. Applied Geobotany addresses questions of landscape and environmental planning, which affect land use and forestry as well as conservation biology. Its study objects include natural and historical vegetation types, habitats and characteristic landscapes.

Diversity of Topics

Our annual excursions in different regions of Germany and neighbouring countries warrant a large variety of topics. Local experts present site diagnosis and tree species selection in carefully selected forest stands. Environmental analysis includes discussions of individual environmental properties like water and nutrient availability as well as their combined effects. The physiographic interpretation of soils is cross-checked with that inferred from indicator plant analysis and humus morphology. Finally, site diagnosis and geobotanical findings form the basis of conclusions for silviculture and nature conservation.

Advanced Training and Information Exchange

The society's annual meetings offer an outstanding possibility for professional advancement and exchange. At present ca. 300 members from all parts of Germany and neighbouring countries are represented in AFSV. The mix of scientists and practitioners from various fields of activity (foresters, experts for site and vegetation classification, pedologists, geologists, biologists) provides a rich exchange of experience. Firmly based in a long tradition of methods and institutions, AFSV explicitly invites the engagement of young members and encourages the open discussion of new methods and theories.

Future Strategies

Special working groups have been installed to strengthen central topics of interest (e.g. GIS-modelling of forest sites, vegetation data bases, assessment of biodiversity and naturalness, detectable changes in the floristic composition caused by global warming and nutrient input, forest planning and wilderness protection, monitoring of Natura-2000 habitats, bog restoration). Programmes, timetables and activities will be coordinated with national organisations (e.g. botanical and phytosociological societies).

In order to intensify our international contacts we have realized our decision from May 2004 to hold our yearly meetings in a three or four year cycle abroad.

International AFSV-Meetings already held:
2018: Ljubljana and Leibnitz / Slovenia and Styria
2015: Timiosoara and Sibiu / Romania
2011: Venosta Valley / South Tyrol
2008: Istanbul and Bolu Region / North-West Turkey
2004: Suleczyno / Kashubian Poland

Practicable forest ecological activities and strategies to fight Climate change are actively promoted, e.g.

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