Interview with Maximilian von Rotenhan, CEO of the Boscor Group
Maximilian von Rotenhan is one of the two managing directors of the Boscor Group. His family has been working with the Reitzenstein family for over 40 years to practice sustainable land management and forestry. At Pina Earth, we are pleased to have been collaborating with the Boscor Group for over a year now. We took this as an opportunity to learn more about sustainable forest adaptation and the collaboration with Pina Earth in a joint interview with Maximilian von Rotenhan.
Maximiilian von Rotenhan, we are pleased to speak with you. Could you briefly introduce yourself and your role at the beginning?
Certainly. My name is Max Rotenhan, I am the managing partner of the Boscor Group, responsible for the forest and woodland area. I have been doing this for 15 years in our family business that we founded, in which we make the know-how that we have built up over decades - or rather centuries - available to forest owners.
What does the Boscor Group do?
The Boscor Group is a service provider in land management. In fact, we are the largest land manager in Germany. Our task is to ensure that our forest owners can harvest sustainable yields. Our focus is on the economic use of both agriculture and forestry, but we aim to do so sustainably. The term 'sustainable' may sound a bit prosaic because it is often used, but the concept of sustainability actually originates from land management. However, 'sustainable' can also mean something different than one might understand – that one always does the same thing. Instead, if one comes from a certain scenario, it can also mean: Now it is more important to use quickly to remain sustainable, and then one uses the forest more slowly. By 'sustainable', we mean that we ensure the soil we manage or the land we manage remains cultivable. This initially says nothing about the quantity.
On your website, it states that you manage forests according to the principles of natural forestry. Can you elaborate on what this means and why it is becoming increasingly important?
Natural forestry can be understood through various measures. Simply put, it means constantly caring for the forest and consistently producing timber. That is essentially the result. However, this process is combined with natural methods. We focus on individual trees and work with various types of trees that are suitable for the specific location. We pay attention to the soil and aim to create structures that are diverse, both horizontally and vertically. We try to focus on natural regeneration instead of planting. These are probably the key aspects.
Why is it important to implement these measures?
Historically, in Germany, we come from a situation where age-class forests were predominant. This means that one tree species was used, and the entire area had the same age, while the next area had a different age. It was discovered that this approach wasn't very functional because these forests presented a higher risk compared to those managed naturally. As a result, there has been a shift back towards natural forest management, utilizing natural processes to produce a product, namely wood.
Boscor describes this process as the Boscor Forest Transformation Scenario. Can you explain this in more detail in light of what we've discussed? How exactly is this implemented?
The primary driving force for us is climate change. The whole topic of forest transformation is happening faster than one might think. In Germany, we come from an age-class forest management. To put it colloquially, we are moving from a monoculture approach to a mixed forest. This, of course, occurs at different times. The forest grows slowly or quickly, depending on one's perspective. But there are certain periods when one can change the forest. In an age-class forest, it's not like you cut it down all at once and then say, "Now we're doing natural forest management." Instead, we try to transition it. By giving the forest time, removing trees, and in the meantime, already cultivating the next tree species. Ideally, over a period of 25-50 years, we manage to convert this existing age-class forest into a new, naturally managed forest. Today, due to climate change, this needs to happen much faster because the stocks are being depleted much faster than one would like. On the other hand, we must ensure that the tree species that make sense are introduced to the area.
How does Pina Earth fit into this and what does the collaboration between the Boscor Group and Pina Earth look like?
The collaboration involves implementing the forest adaptation methodology developed by Pina Earth. This methodology provides forest owners with guidelines of how to implement forest adaptation measures. The results of Pina Earth’s simulation demonstrate that under a certain forest adaptation scenario, more CO2 is stored than in the current management scenario. Because of the project contract, the forest owners must ensure the implementation of forest management practices. It gives them a certain motivation to actually tackle forest adaptation. Pina Earth’s forest adaptation method revolves around depleting the stock, perhaps a bit faster than one would naturally do, and replacing it with a stock that, in total, grows faster and thus stores more CO2. The interesting aspect of working with Pina Earth is that something profitable in terms of CO2 storage also yields profits for the forest owner.
What is your impression after one year of collaboration with Pina Earth and how do you look to the future?
As I look into the future, I have come to know Pina as a very fact-based, serious, content-strong young company that focuses on the meaningfulness of its project, rather than the economic focus that is perhaps often prioritized today. I have the feeling that concepts are being created that are intended to have a long-term impact and bring about change, rather than just hastily setting up some scheme to make a profit in the short term.
The collaboration is pleasant. I work primarily with Florian, which works out super well. We are in quick exchange in terms of coordination and I look forward to further projects that we will tackle together.