Clearings at ground level interspersed with dense undergrowth surmounted by the wide crowns of the tall trees create an image of the primal forest. They provide a habitat for many the species whose needs are met. Many butterfly and moth species need woodland clearings providing light and warmth, which also increase the variety of nectar-producing plants and food plants for caterpillars. In addition, many species of birds and bats are dependent on this structural diversity.
The undergrowth was cut approximately every twenty years for firewood. Nowadays the forest is managed predominantly as a timber forest with the result that the trees are allowed to grow for longer. The prime objective is the production of sawn timber. In practical terms "the coppiced woodland is a coppiced forest in which isolated, good quality trunks (mainly oaks) are always allowed to age and only harvested after they have reached a diameter which can be used for lumber." (Heinrich Cotta: Instructions on Forestry, Dresden 1817). In the coppiced woodland not only the wood of the forest was used but domestic animals, mainly pigs, were driven into the forest from time to time. Sometimes the land was farmed for a couple of years after coppicing.
Coppiced woodland is still today used in the traditional way in the forests surrounding Iphofen. Rules on its use vary.
The upper storey mainly consists of sessile oaks (Quercus petraea) and common oaks (Quecus robur), with hornbeams (Carpinus betulus) forming the lower storey. Rare tree species such as the service tree (Sorbus torminalis), sorb-tree (Sorbus domestica) and European wild pear (Pyrus pyraster) are also to be found here.
The wooded areas of the southern Steigerwald are among the priority areas for butterfly and moth protection in Europe and are considered to be one of the most outstanding major areas for butterflies and moths in Germany. Among the rare diurnal moths to be frequently found in the region in earlier times were the "Heckenwollafter” (Eriogaster catax) and the Jersey Tiger. Amongst the birds, the collared flycatcher which enjoys special protection everywhere in Europe uses the forest clearings as a hunting ground. The middle-spotted woodpecker is abundant in the forests.
|Jersey Tiger||"Heckenwollafter" (Eriogaster catax)||Collared flycatchers|