Forest aesthetics

Because woodlands grow on many urban-industrial sites as a result of natural succession, it stands to reason that these areas can be seen as ele­ments of forestry. In urban regions, however, these woodlands are not so much subject to forestry uses such as wood production, but rather take on recreation as their primary function. This makes necessary a new orienta­tion of urban forestry that takes into account social uses of forests. This may be provided by its historic roots in forest aesthetics, which had a closer connection to the cultural-historic and more broadly based under­standing of nature conservation and therefore also to urban nature conser­vation and to landscape architecture. These roots can be rediscovered through the design of urban-industrial forests.

Forest aesthetics as a component of forestry can basically be classified as a use-oriented design approach that has close connections to Landesver – schonung and Heimatschutz and, therefore, to historic preservation as well
(von Salisch 1911, p. 1). Von Salisch defined the art of forestry as an “art of necessity”, in which the outer form of objects is derived from their func­tion. In this way, forest aesthetics is not seen as a solely aesthetic problem and does not, therefore, belong to the fine arts. This does not, however, make it secondary in von Salisch’s opinion because, since humans are ra­tional beings, they can only ultimately be satisfied with functionality (ibid, p. 23).

In his book Forstasthetik (Forest Aesthetics), von Salisch begins the chapter "Applied forest aesthetics" with the classification of the most prac­tical uses of soil (ibid, p. 193). He addresses the connection with historic preservation, i. e., with the historic preservation of nature, in the chapter "Foundations of forest aesthetics" and points out the close connection with Landesverschonung and with Heimatschutz (ibid, p. 12).

In addition to his description of effective uses of soil, von Salisch de­scribes the components of beauty in forests. Here the close connection with the historic preservation of nature plays a particular role, as not only are the different tree species with their specific aesthetic characteristics listed, i. e., their growth, leaf and bark forms (ibid, p. 80f) but also special rocks and rock formations and historically meaningful trees are described both as natural monuments and as signs of earlier forms of forestry (ibid,

p. 166).

It is, however, decisive that from the historic preservation component of forest aesthetics, it is not a conservational approach that is derived, but rather that, for von Salisch, the interests of land use take priority. Natural – and cultural-historical interests as well as aesthetic interests must therefore be integrated into wood production. Then only when wood production is not given priority, as is the case today in the woodlands of urban-industrial areas, can the cultural-historical and social dimensions of forestry be placed in the foreground. Social dimensions for von Salisch include, for example, recreation for children and youth. Von Salisch quotes Riehl, the first German folklorist, with the words: "A village without a forest [is] like a city without historic architecture, without monuments, without art collec­tions, without theaters and concerts, in short without leisurely and aesthetic stimuli. The forest is the playground of the youth, often a festival hall of the elderly. Does this not weigh at least as heavily as the economic ques­tion of the wood?" (Riehl quoted in ibid, p. 196). Von Salisch described the recreation function of forests as well, which is the understood purpose today of forests in conurbations and, therefore, also of forests in urban – industrial areas.

Updated: October 13, 2015 — 10:59 am