09 Apr 2021, 12:17
Edgar Meza

Extreme weather results in 13 billion euros in damage to German forests

Clean Energy Wire / FAZ

Extreme weather events in Germany have hit the forestry sector hard, resulting in damages of 13 billion euros over the past three years, according to a new report by the German Forestry Council (DFWR), which represents the country’s forestry industry. The sector has received 1.5 billion euros from federal and state emergency aid programmes, but the DFWR said in a statement that the sum only covered “a fraction of the damage”. DFWR president Georg Schirmbeck added: “If we want to preserve the forest and its functions for society and adapt it to climate change, funds of this magnitude will be required every year.” Bernhard Möhring, from the University of Göttingen and head of the study, stressed that the extent of damage from 2018 to 2020 due to storms, droughts and bark beetles far exceeded “the financial possibilities and reserves of most forest owners and forest operations in view of the dimensions”. Around half of Germany’s forests are privately owned. So far, owners have financed the measures to adapt forests to climate change from the sale of harvested wood, the DFWR noted. “So far, the forest companies have provided biodiversity, climate protection and recreational space mostly free of charge,” Möhring added. “Climate change has undermined this principle.”

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, forests make up a third of Germany’s total area – approximately 11.4 million hectares. About 54 percent of German forests consists of conifers, 43 percent of deciduous forest. Spruce trees, which were planted in large numbers after the Second World War, are particularly susceptible to heat and drought, making them vulnerable to pests such as the bark beetle. They are also susceptible to storms. Four out of five trees have thinning crowns, and around a third of trees are experiencing significant thinning, according to the agriculture ministry’s Forest Condition Report 2020, which was published in February. More surveyed trees died in 2020 than in any previous year, the report found. 

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