original title: Der Pfälzerwald rund ums Jahr

The Palatinate Forest, the largest contiguous forest area in Germany, is home to numerous species of wild animals and a centuries-old tree population. The two-part film accompanies people who have recognized the value of close-to-nature trade and fight for the preservation of nature.

Winter & Spring
The episode “Winter and Spring” focuses on people who want to preserve the forest and make it fit for the future. A project to reintroduce the lynx causes a stir. The predator was long considered extinct in the Palatinate Forest. Michael Back, the Rhineland-Palatinate state commissioner for large carnivores, repeatedly brings lynx from Slovakia and Switzerland to the Palatinate Forest. With the help of photo trap monitoring, he tries to find out if they are reproducing. Wildlife biologist Carolin Tröger is investigating what effects the lynx reintroduction has on the deer population. To record the deer population, she is experimenting with a drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera. In the Northern Vosges, the biosphere reserve uses Scottish Highland cattle for landscape management. The animals are intended to prevent the forest from getting out of hand and open areas from becoming overgrown. This is because so-called open land biotopes are the habitat of rare animal and plant species. A farmer’s family breeds the robust animals and earns a living by selling the meat. For students at the renowned German Shoe School, the Palatinate Forest is a source of inspiration. They belong to a generation of young creatives who wanted to give new splendor to the small town of Pirmasens. It was once considered Germany’s most important shoe metropolis.

Summer & Autumn
The episode “Summer and Autumn” follows people who have recognized the value of trading close to nature and are fighting to preserve it. Bizarre rock formations of red sandstone characterize the landscape. They were formed millions of years ago when a desert climate prevailed in the region and enormous amounts of sand were deposited. Today, the Dahner Felsenland is one of the most important climbing areas in Germany. Dorothea John tries to climb one of the steep walls for the first time. The Palatinate Forest is also known for its precious oaks. The nutrient-poor sandstone soil helps the trees grow slowly and the wood is particularly hard and dense-pored. Forester Burkhard Steckel is the master of the “Million Quarter,” where Germany’s most expensive oaks thrive. Many a trunk fetches more than 10,000 euros at the annual timber auction. For Christian Müller-Schick, oak wood from the Palatinate Forest is the most important raw material. He is the only stave carver in Germany and uses it to make longitudinal timbers that are used to build barrels. One of the winegrowers who prefer to age their wine in Palatinate oak is Frank John. He practices biodynamic viticulture and is a pioneer of near-natural farming in the Palatinate. His drops are among Germany’s top wines. One reason for this is the special climate on the edge of the Palatinate Forest.

Written & directed by: Wolfram Giese, Ann-Christin Krumm
Camera: Ricardo Esteban Garzon Mesa
Additional camera: Alex Sommer, Garrit Pieper, Ciaran Ryan
Editing: Lodur Tettenborn, Klaus Kübel
Sound mixing: Peer Hoffmann
Production Management: Eva Frank

A production of K22film
On behalf of SWR
In cooperation with arte
First broadcast: arte: 7.12.2020, SWR: pending