Agriculture minister proposes more funds for climate action by forest owners
Tagesspiegel Background / Clean Energy Wire
Federal agriculture minister Cem Özdemir has presented several proposals to protect Germany’s forests, including more funding to land owners to introduce climate measures. Conflicting interests of forest owners relying on the commercial use of timber and conservationists calling for woodlands to be preserved and used for carbon storage have been a key topic at the special meeting of Green Party politician Özdemir and state agricultural ministers. Özdemir advocated balancing interests with a number of measures, such as an amendment to the Federal Forest Act aimed at making forests more “species-rich and climate-resilient” with predominantly native tree species. The agriculture ministry (BMEL) further earmarked 200 million euros to compensate forest owners for the financial impact of climate protection and biodiversity measures.
Till Backhaus (SPD), state agricultural minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, made the case for maintaining commercial use of forests, while Baden-Württemberg’s Peter Hauk (CDU) criticized the "dubious strategy of the EU" to close off forests as part of its biodiversity strategy, Tagesspiegel Background reports. The federal agriculture ministry’s timber construction initiative supports the use of wood from sustainable, predominantly domestic forest management for building, saying it “makes a significant contribution to climate protection and the conservation of finite resources”. According to NGO NABU, however, the processing of wood currently binds around 3 million tonnes of CO2 in products each year. By contrast, Germany’s forests binds around 60 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
The impact of changing climate conditions on Germany's forest has become an increasing cause for concern in Germany in the past years. A string of exceptionally hot and dry summers has inflicted great damage on woodlands.