The Schafwald is fit for the future

Tue, 23. Jul. 2019

For the past five years, the Hotel Gstaad Palace has been financing the afforestation of the Schafwald on the Oberbort. The well-maintained trees are now fit for future.

Nearly twenty years ago, Storm Lothar ripped through the forest, creating an aisle in the southern part of the Schafwald in Gstaad and leaving an ugly picture of destruction. In June, a group of six people strolled up to the protected forest and picnic area. Amongst them were the forester in charge, Daniel Bütschi, the director of the Gstaad Palace, Andrea Scherz, and a representative from the cantonal office for forestry and the divisional manager for forestry regulation, Christina Zumbrunn.

A sustainable anniversary project
“It was a peaceful and beautiful project,” said Andrea Scherz. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, in addition to festive events, he wanted to invest money in something sustainable for the entire region. The connection to his hotel was also important to him. “My grandfather liked to hike up to the Schafwald. It’s a beautiful spot, and a great vantage point over Saanenland and the hotel.”

Maintenance work
“Nature would have regenerated by itself, albeit much more slowly,” informed Christina Zumbrunn during the visit. Daniel Bütschi has coordinated the maintenance work of the last five years together with the local forestry company, Hefti and Ryter AG. “Trees were planted where there was minimal natural rejuvenation. We filled in the gaps left by the Lothar.”

Equipped for climate change
How is climate change visible in Saanenland? Christina Zumbrunn says: “In addition to the rise in temperature, we’re experiencing more and more extreme weather events like storms.” Some plants are better equipped to cope with these changes compared to others. For example, as the native conifer has a shallow root system, a pure spruce forest would be vulnerable to drought. That’s why trees like the sycamore have been cultivated during reforestation as it has deeper roots.

A picnic area that invites you to linger
At the lower edge of the forest, Andrea Scherz commissioned an attractive picnic area, which has been built and maintained by Mike Hauswirth. For safety reasons, there’s no hearth, according to the owner of Mike Hauswirth Natursteinarbeiten GmbH. “The slope is exposed to the sun from morning to evening and the fire risk would be far too great.” His family has owned the afforested area for several generations.

Based on AvS/Sara Trailovic
Translated by Justine Hewson

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