07 Sep 2021, 13:59
Benjamin Wehrmann

2050 strategy aims to make Germany’s forests resilient to warming climate

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s forests need to be adapted to global warming in order to remain intact and contribute to balancing the country’s emissions, the agricultural ministry (BMEL) said in its new Forest Strategy 2050. “When it comes to forests, we must not limit our thinking to government terms of four years but think and plan ahead for decades at least,” agriculture minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) said. The strategy is supposed to protect biodiversity and habitats by better preparing forests for a warmer central European climate, as well as constantly monitoring progress to react to new developments. “Afforestation and adaptation are the key activities regarding forests’ role in climate action,” said researcher Andreas Bolte of the Thünen Institute, which helped devise the strategy. The 2050 plan should also foster sustainable use of wood and improve the forests’ role as carbon sinks. The ministry’s aim is a quota of 30 percent wood as construction material in new buildings. The value of trees for climate action could be underlined by including them as net-absorbers in CO2 emissions trading, the BMEL said, saying that an existing proposal for such a pricing scheme should be introduced by the next government.

Environmental NGO NABU criticised the ministry's strategy as a "mere forestry strategy" that seeks to maximise the woodlands' economic value rather than their contribution to healthy ecosystems. This could be seen in the BMEL's refusal to cooperate with other ministries on the strategy to achieve a more comprehensive picture. "A paradigm change in the way we treat and use our forests is long overdue," said NABU head Jörg-Andreas Krüger. Instead of appreciating the forests' role in cooling local environments, storing water, preventing floods, cleaning the air and storing carbon, the agriculture ministry had chosen to focus on their potential for wood supply "by a set of mostly unclear and hardly measurable announcements."

About one third of Germany’s surface is covered by forests, mostly with mixed tree species. But extreme weather events, especially droughts and subsequent bark beetle infestations, have done great damage and led to the need for afforestation on about 280,000 hectares of land. The ministry has provided 1.5 billion euros for forest protection measures in the largest such programme so far to lay the groundwork for repair and restructuring activities until the middle of the century.

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