Structurally rich forest edges

Structurally rich forest edges
Structured forest edges have hedges and other structural elements. © B. Stolze/

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Forestry, Hunting, Nature protection, Other: Schools

Affected habitats



The edges of forests and woodland are often located next to agricultural areas, lakes or rivers, open meadows, pasturage or roads and railways. Together with other structural elements such as hedges, forest strips or riparian strips, they are an important element of a biotope network. Due to their function as transitional zones, they provide a place of refuge and particularly valuable habitats (e.g. for rarer species of deciduous tree or shrubs). They are also important as stepping stone biotopes, e.g. for wild bees, beetles, bats, birds and hedgehogs. Valuable forest edges comprise a shelterbelt, shrub belt and herbaceous fringe. These three components vary in age and are layered and irregular in structure. They require regular management measures.


Impact in particular on Small mammals, Big mammals, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Improvement or preservation of habitats Layered and structurally rich forest edges are valuable biotopes which provide a habitat for many rare species. They enhance the habitat of wild animals in particular.
Element of ecological network Forest edges are an important element of the cultural landscape and due to their linear structure in transitional zones are important for networks of interlinked biotopes. They can also be enriched with dry stone walls.
Other Stabilising impact on tree stands.
Time of realisation for measure Years: The desired structure will not develop until 5-10 years after the first targeted management measures to create a structurally rich forest margin.
Impact scope Local (municipality): Relevant measures may also have an impact beyond the immediate locality.


Implementation period Weeks: The duration of measures depends on the type and intensity of intervention.
Frequency Recurring: The typical structure can only be developed through regular maintenance.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Low (1'000-10'000 EUR): Subsidies are available for this type of forest management measure. The costs of managing forest margins amount to approx. € 2000/100 m (width 30 m).
Socio-economic impacts Low: An intact forest margin has positive impacts on forestry, as it reduces the risk of windthrow or breakage. Material resulting from management measures can be used for heat energy.
Sources of financing Other private sources, Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Enhancement of forest margins can be integrated into management planning by local forest enterprises and at higher level and take place within the framework of forest management. It can also be included in landscape planning and management.

Further information

Evaluation The importance of structurally rich forest margins for flora and fauna and as an element of the biotope network is substantiated and in some cases is already included in framework strategies for nature conservation in forests. Relevant examples can be provided by forestry agencies and enterprises and nature conservation organisations.
Information Switzerland: e.g. Amt für Wald (Forestry Office) Graubünden, Switzerland

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