Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Analysis of Extension Efforts in Bavaria: Extensionists Perception

Roland Beck & Ullrike Krafft

Technical University of Munich, Am Hochanger 13,
D- 85354 Freising, Germany.


Change is an ongoing process in every society. Since years especially the primary sector- and as a part of it forestry- is heavily and increasingly effected by these changes. Relevant fields of change effecting forestry are the structural developments in agriculture, the general forestry and wood industry framework, as well as general changes in attitudes and views of the population and the forest owners. The focus group of forestry extension therewith has become more complex: the traditional clientele- farmers – fast decreases in number and the portion of owners hard to reach by traditional means of information and communication increases (Beck and Schaffner, 2000). In addition tense public budgets and discussions on the effectiveness and efficiency of state activities also pulled the attention on the extension efforts of the Bavarian Forest Service. So far no in depth scientific analysis of these extension activities has been carried out. The paper presents the approach, design and the results of the first phase of the 3 years project „Communication Strategies in Forestry Extension in Bavaria“, focusing on extension foresters perceptions and accomplishments.


The Bavarian Act on the Support of Bavarian Agriculture and the Regulation on the Support of Private and Corporate Forestry in Bavaria formulate the support measures for Bavarian private forest owners. Besides financial incentives this support includes the provision of extension services free of charge by the Bavarian Forest Service. Bavaria therewith follows the traditional institutional extension approach: 480 field foresters in 441 ranges and additional 292 managing foresters (i.e. 40% of the forest service personnel) provide extension for the ca. 400 000 forest owners in Bavaria (Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten, 2000).

Table 1 shows the size distribution of private forest ownership in Bavaria. The average forest holding reaches only 3,7 hectares, divided in 2 parcels.

Table 1: Ownership Size of Private Forests in Bavaria

66% of the 211 000 forest ownerships larger than 1 hectare still belong to the group of farm forests. 174 forest owner associations, covering ca. 70 % of the private forest area and 28% of the forest owners pro-vide a variety of services in differing intensity.

General information on extension activities are documented through the field foresters log books, which are also serving as progress reports. The analysis of the last 10 years data reveals a rather surprising stable picture: Person to person contacts dominate. An average of 110 forest owners directly can be reached by a forester per year through that approach. Another 150 owners get in touch through about 8 – 10 group information events per year. Personal or contacts by phone at the average range office sum up to additional 220 reached owners. Multiple contacts with the especially active clientele are included in the sum though. Nevertheless it has to be stated that the recent extension practice enables the communication with 20 to 30% of the approximately 1000 – 1300 forest owners per range.

An average of 7 – 10 meetings with bodies of forest owner association takes place per year, underlining the special awareness given to these organizations.

Extension contents differ from region to region, but in general the focus is laid on forest regeneration, tending, harvesting, pest control and financial support.

Project Objective and Project Design

So far available data are insufficient to formulate founded conclusions on the effect of extension activities and communication tools, the reached clientele or forest owners preferences in terms of content and means.

Therefore in 2000 the project „Communication Strategies in Forestry Extension in Bavaria“ was launched to provide an in depth analysis of the extension situation, but also to allow the modification or development of strategies, methods and contents to adjust extension efforts in Bavaria to the changing forest owner clientele.

The project is structured in 4 phases:

  • Analysis of extension activities (situation analysis - offer profile) [Year 2000]
  • Analysis of forest owners needs and preferences (situation analysis - demand profile) [Year 2001]
  • Development of communication concepts [Year 2001/2002]
  • Implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the communication concepts in selected communes [Year 2002]

Phase 1 has already been finished and phase 2 is in the final analytical stadium. Therefore the following explanation will focus on the results of the extension activity analysis.

Scientific approach

Interactions between people stand in the foreground of the project. Therefore central aspects to be covered are perceptions, communication and human behavior. Referring to the trimodal model of Merten (1994), forest owners are bound by different internal and external contexts, which influence the perceptions, knowledge and opinions about their forest property and therewith the communication with extensionists. Besides interpersonal structures the organizational structure effects the extension offers and the communication of extensionists with forest owners.

Workshops were used to assess the extension activities profile. 10 regionally distributed one day sessions with 10 field foresters each time involved in total almost 25% of the Bavarian field extensionists in the process.

Group discussions, group work, a social environment analysis and a force field analysis approach with additional questionnaire formed the content of the workshops.

Workshop results

The objective of the workshops was to:

  • assess field foresters understanding of extension
  • gain insight in the extension process
  • draw a picture of extension actors network and relationships
  • recognize furthering and hindering forces and
  • formulate extension strategies, concepts or measures and name possible partners

Foresters understanding of extension

Figure 1 lists the central terms used by the field foresters to describe their understanding of extension. The type-size represents the frequency of mentioning.

Figure 1: Field foresters understanding of extension

“Client orientation” includes statements like “personal and individual”, “partnership” and “acceptance of forest owner decisions”. “Social competency” is connected with “create interest”, “open and positive manner”, include needs of owners”. “Extension Efforts” means mainly “mutual contentment”, “positive feedback” and “implementation of advice”.

Over all field foresters strongly relate to extension as a process, mainly based on a person to person relationship which forms the core of foresters experience and practical extension work.

Aspects of extension work

The following figures include the perceptions of field foresters towards central aspects which influence or describe extension efforts: Extension organization (Figure 2), extension process (Figure 3), extension clientele (Figure 5) and forest owner organizations (Figure 6).

Extension organization aspects

In every forest district office 2 managing foresters are responsible for planning, coordination and support of the extension efforts on the range level. 30% of the field foresters are not content with the provided support of the management level, 54% state a lack of clear objectives and work focus for extension activities, 60% recognize a need for detailed focus group descriptions. Only 68 % feel well and timely informed.

Figure 2: Foresters perception on the influence of extension organization

Cluster analysis of the statements revealed 2 groups of extension management and organization:

a. an active support and team system with content field foresters (ca.70%),

b. a passive and uninterested layout rather negatively perceived by field foresters (ca. 30%)

Extension process

The person to person approach forms the dominating extension measure. Group information events and meetings are less important. Leaflets, press articles or training courses play a minor role. Time restrictions (68%) and insufficient technical equipment (74%) are named to hinder extension efforts with forest owners. 56 % of the foresters though state actively to contact and try to extend their clientele.

Figure 3: Foresters perceptions on extension process aspects

The role of grants as an incentive in extension work finds a differentiated judgement: For 63% of the extensionists, grants and the respective guidelines support their work, but 40% claim insufficient funds. Though 76% of the involved foresters feel sufficiently prepared for their job, ground education at forestry schools or in service training should include additional subjects like extension methods, time management and practical training.

Extension clientele

Forest owners are the major focus of extension activities. A former study already developed 3 “forest owner descriptions” relating to forest extension, to structure the clientele (Figure 4). The foresters confirmed the characteristics and distributed their clientele among the 3 clusters:

Figure 4: Characteristics of forest owner descriptions

According to the results, 21% of the forest owners belong to the group of interested and active owners, 35% are more indifferent; 42% are not in contact with the foresters or owners lack of interest in extension.

Ca.150 – 200 forest owners form the core audience, field foresters are repeatedly in contact with. They belong mainly to forest owner description 1. The general data of the log book analysis are therewith confirmed.

The change in ownership structure manifests the major concern of field foresters towards the extension clientele (Figure 5). Depending on the region the consequences for extension work are already perceptible.

Figure 5: Foresters perceptions on forest owners

Forest owner organizations

Organized forest owners form the more active and open clientele for field foresters. Forest owner organizations function as major multipliers for the work with forest owners. For 46% of the field foresters though these organizations are not accepted as equal partners in the extension process.

Figure 6: Foresters perception of forest owner organizations role

In some regions forest owner organizations are even recognized as competitors especially for the work with the traditional most active and high motivated owner clientele.

Extension actors network and relationships

To clarify the roles of different actors in the field of forestry extension, the participating foresters structured the extension environment with the help of a “Social Environment Analysis” (SEA)1.

The most important actors were identified by short telephone interviews in the run-up to the workshops. During the sessions the extensionists first determined the influence of each selected actor in the extension field2 . The second step determined the level of influencing each actor is exposed to. The result is shown in figure 73. The mutual relations and dependencies of the different actor and actor groups reveal.

The perception of the field foresters shows, that neither actors are located in the (upper left) “active” field, nor in the “reactive” corner. So no real actor dominance exists and none of the actors is only influenced and without acting autonomy. The forest owner stands in the center of all extension attention, with high influence, but also heavily influenced by other actors. Extensionists, family and forest owner organization count for the strongest influence.

Figure 7: Extension actors network and relationships

The position of the field foresters is also located in the moderating sector with the strongest influence on the extension field in total. This influence is directed mainly towards forest owners and owner organizations.

These organizations are also positioned in the moderating sector. This rather active but modifiable position make forest owner organizations an important partner for extension. Contacts here may be regionally intensified and professionalized. Successful collaboration though depends on clear definitions and differentiation of the mutual competencies and tasks between organization and extension forester.

The position of the leading foresters at the forest district office level is located in the lower midfield with tendency towards the “observing” section. Their influence points are concentrated towards the field foresters and the press without showing a clear focus. Leading foresters build a link between the actors in the moderating and the observing sector. Press, interest groups and communes only observe the extension field.

Furthering and hindering forces (“Force field analysis”)

The elaboration of furthering and hindering forces in extension work is a necessary step to develop extension strategies and concepts. Figure 8 presents the most important citings, structured in the sectors “forest owner”, “extension impulse”, “multipliers”, “framework conditions”and “field forester”.

Figure 8: Foresters perceptions on furthering and hindering forces

The listed forces might be either furthering and/or hindering. Its obvious, that several of the listed forces may not be modified by extension means, for example legislation, property structure or personality. Nevertheless the citings provide indications for necessary fields of action. Education, calamities and owner organizations seem to be the most promising ones.

Strategies and concepts

Based on the force field analysis the field foresters developed a set of concepts and strategies for extension activities for the 3 groups of forest owner descriptions. Figure 9 to 11 present results for the active and interested, the indifferent and those not in contact forest owners.

Figure 9: Extension projects for the active and interested forest owner clientele

The over all objective for this clientele is to keep in contact but transfer more responsibilities and tasks to forest owners. Measures therefore heavily rely on the collaboration with forest owner organization and in further education. The creation of a sufficient number of reliable multipliers among the forest owners stands in the foreground.

Figure 10: Extension projects for the indifferent group of forest owners

According to the discussion most energy for the implementation of additional extension measures should be directed to this group of forest owners. The improvement of extension contacts forms the core objective. Information and further education offers build the focus of activities. The development of full service packages in collaboration with the forest owner organization for non farmer and/ or absentee forest owners seem to be an appropriate tool to further forest management.

Figure 11: Extension projects for forest owners not in contact with

The participating foresters were sure that not too much energy and time should be invested for this group of forest owners. Therefore the general objective of the listed measures is rather awareness rising on forestry themes and the existence of an extension service free of charge

Conclusion and outlook

The results of the first phase of the project reveal that the Bavarian forestry extension personal still heavily relies on person to person contacts. Group information and other meetings play a minor role. The social environment analysis proved the “forestry extension field triangle”: Forest owners, extensionists and forest owner associations play the most active roles in forestry extension. Other actors- like the communes or the forest owners family, neighbors and friends- were identified to be in a rather observing than actively influencing position. The motivation of the owners, further education efforts, the owner-extensionist relationship, availability of financial incentives as well as the effectiveness of the existing forest owner associations influence extension work either positive or negative. The already interested and active extension clientele might be kept motivated through improved further education measures, closer collaboration with forest owner associations, public relation measures and financial incentives. For those not easy to reach and non interested forest owners, awareness rising activities- like special events or clientele focused personal mail -seem to be the most promising approaches. The development of a quality management system seems to be necessary to overcome the gaps in strategic and operational planning and implementation.

Phase 2 of the project is already in progress: 762 forest owners in 7 selected communes have already been interviewed on their needs and perceptions towards forest extension. The analysis of these data is still in progress. By the end of the year the results of the forester workshops and the forest owner interviews will be used to plan in a participatory process extension measures to be implemented in the selected communes the coming year.


1. Bayerisches Staatsminsterium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten (2000): Jahresbericht 1999 [Annual Report 1999], Munich.

2. Beck, R., Schaffner, S. (2000): Auswirkungen des Sozialen Wandels auf die forstliche Beratung in Bayern [Impact of Societal Change on Forestry Extension in Bavaria]. In: AFZ / Der Wald, Nr. 20/2000, Page 1061 – 1064. Stuttgart.

3. Suda, M. (1993): Einfluss der Wasserwirtschaft auf die Forstwirtschaft am Beispiel Bayern. [Influence of Water Management Entities on Forestry in Bavaria. Unpublished, Munich

4. Vester, F. (1990):Ausfahrt Zukunft: Strategien für den Verkehr von morgen. Eine Systemuntersuchung. [Exit Future: Strategies for the Traffic of Tomorrow. Heine, Munich.

1 SEA refers to the method of influene matrix by Vester (Vester, 1990, 1999; Suda, 1993)

2 The influence is determined by the participants through the distribution of a given sum of point to every actor

3 The focus is not on the influence or influencing points per se, but on the positions and relations of actors to one another.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page