13 May 2024, 13:36
Julian Wettengel

German forests needed for climate action, but remain in poor condition – report

Clean Energy Wire

German forests are in a poor state, as four out of five trees of the most common species – spruce, pine, beech and oak – are damaged, said the agriculture ministry's forest condition assessment 2023. Overall, the damage remains at a very high level and, depending on the tree species, has not changed at all or only very slightly compared to the previous year, the ministry said. "The prolonged drought and high temperatures of recent years have caused lasting damage," said agriculture minister Cem Özdemir. A healthy forest is a vital ally in the fight against climate change, he said. "It removes climate-damaging carbon dioxide from the air and binds it for decades and centuries."

German forests have been damaged heavily by droughts, bark beetle infestations, storms and forest fires in recent years. Forests act as natural carbon sinks, playing an important role in achieving climate targets by balancing out emissions that are hard to avoid. The German climate law already prescribes annual net-negative emissions targets for the land use sector (LULUCF, which also includes other carbon sinks and sources, for example peatland) for 2030, 2040 and 2045, and the government is currently working on a long-term strategy for negative emissions. One goal of the strategy is to strengthen natural carbon sinks, including forests.

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