The Association for Social-Ecological Change (VSOW e.V.) invited a total of 30 young people from Germany and Turkey to the joint project “Youth for Forests”. The aims of the activities were not only direct environmental and forest protection, but also intercultural exchange. The activities in Brandenburg and Mugla served as a method to inspire young adults for nature conservation and to bring them together. Especially the two particularly affected regions in Brandenburg and Mugla make it clear that we are facing the same challenges in Europe and that we can only solve these problems together. Since CO2 was also emitted during the exchange, there was an intensive discussion about (the meaningfulness of) CO2 offsets and the associated privileges of travel, in which the participants pointed out further possible solutions.
The forests of Brandenburg, like the forests of the Turkish Aegean, are strongly affected by climate change. In Turkey, worshipping forest fires destroyed hundreds of hectares of forest in 2021 and 2022, with Muğla Province being particularly affected. Brandenburg also has numerous forest fires every year. In 2022 alone, more than 4,300 hectares of forest burned in Germany, more than five times the annual average of just under 800 hectares over the past 30 years (Presseportal rbb). Although the fires are not (yet) so devastating due to urban sprawl and monocultures, the forest is nevertheless climate-damaged and thus particularly vulnerable. Due to the advancing drought, the stands urgently need to be rejuvenated.
The Youth for Forests (YFF) project involved young people from both countries to address climate change and forest protection and at the same time to get involved themselves: In Bugk (Oder-Spree County) forest regeneration with climate resilient and native species was carried out and in Mugla (Milas, Kayaönü Municipality) forests were reforested, which were destroyed by the 2021 fires. For the regions, this means CO2 compensation, improvement of soil and air quality, and appreciation of nature.