Forests are the most species-rich and productive of all ecosystems. They produce a great amount of biomass, permanently bind carbon dioxide and supply oxygen. However, forests are now severely threatened: an estimated 60% of the 4 billion hectares of forest that still exist worldwide have been damaged. In Germany, only just under one third of the land area is still regarded as forest. There are hardly any indigenous primeval forests left. In addition, a tree rarely reaches its natural age today, although over the centuries it has become increasingly valuable as a small biotope.
In Nepal (and a few years ago also in Brazil), the Foundation helps communities to use and to market "non-timber products" from their forests, such as daphne, medicinal herbs and tea herbs, in a sustainable way to prevent deforestation. Long-term perspectives for people and nature could be opened up by biosphere reserves, whose potential is currently being investigated by the Foundation.
In Sicily, the Foundation undertakes numerous environmental education activities in connection with forests, reforestation and the cultivation of tree seedlings by children. They are partly supported by the Federal Environment Ministry through its EUKI programme (European Climate Protection Initiative). All projects involve young volunteers who are sent via the European ERASMUS+ / European Solidarity Corps programme. On Mt. Egitto, also in Sicily, the Foundation was able to achieve the preservation of 52 almost thousand-year-old oaks by means of exemption.
The Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung owns the largest part of the nature reserve "Wüste & Glase" in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as well as some forest areas, partly leased, near Bremen. The near-natural forest areas are left undisturbed to natural succession, and some areas of monotonous coniferous forest are gradually converted into mixed forest in a gentle way.
The foundation offers regular environmental education in combination with reforestation and the growing of tree seedlings in its Children's Forest in Bremen on a site provided for this purpose by the foundation Hans-Wendt-Stiftung in Bremen-Borgfeld. We support further initiatives of certain partner organisations through donations in Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Ukraine, Romania and Ethiopia.