18 Apr 2023, 13:14
Carolina Kyllmann

Forest fires cost Germany over €600 mln in 2022, experts call for protection improvements

Clean Energy Wire

Forest experts have called for immediate improvements in Germany’s forest fire protection as incidents cost the country over 600 million euros in 2022 in damages to health, nature and the economy. The growing number of forest fires is a visible sign of climate change, the experts said at a hearing in the interior and home affairs committee, adding that agricultural areas and peatland are affected too. All suitable state police helicopters should be mounted with external cargo hooks for fire-extinguishing water equipment, Ulrich Cimolino from the German fire brigade association recommended. Tobias Hallas from the International Disaster Management Germany association added that specialists must be trained and research centres for firefighting established. Additionally, permanent funding for states, fire brigades and forest owners should be secured on the federal level for research, advice, leadership or international exchange, Alexander Held from the European Forest Institute said.

Daniel Kurth, district administrator of Barnim in Brandenburg, called for more so-called climate-adapted forests but added that there is a problem with implementation because of the high costs. Sustainable forest conversion, where forests of a single species are converted into rich mixed forests, is a mammoth task for forest owners, Andreas W. Bitter, head of the Association of German Forest Owners, said. However, concerns of forest development and the necessities of fire protection should not be seen as opposites, Hermann Schröder, former crisis management civil servant in the state of Baden-Württemberg, said.

Regional heat records in northern Germany, drought in many regions, and large forest and field fires in the east plagued the country in the summer of 2022. The impact of changing climate conditions on Germany's forests has become an increasing cause for concern in the country over the past years as a string of exceptionally hot and dry summers has inflicted great damage.

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