16 May 2022, 13:11
Julian Wettengel

German state agriculture ministers aim to streamline forest protection

Clean Energy Wire / dpa / Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland

Germany's federal and state agriculture ministers are discussing ways to improve the deteriorating state of Germany’s forests, which have come under heavy strain in recent years to due prolonged droughts, heavy storms, bark beetle infestations and wildfires, writes Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. The agenda of the “special meeting” includes coping with the impacts of extreme weather events and preventing forest fires, as well as the timber industry and the possibilities of sustainable construction with wood. Dealing with damages must be discussed among the state governments, Saxony-Anhalt's agriculture minister Sven Schulze told dpa. "These are all issues that a single state cannot solve on its own."
“A special conference on the topic of forests is as unusual as it is appropriate, because we are in a real forest crisis,” said Johann Rathke, coordinator for agriculture policy at NGO WWF. Forests are “on the verge of climate collapse” and shouldn’t be further decimated through plans to use more wood for heating, as would be discussed by ministers.

The state of Germany's forests has been a cause for concern for several years and was fuelled by exceptionally hot and dry summers that have inflicted great damage on woodlands in recent years. The drought years of 2018, 2019 and 2020 were exceptional and had substantial impacts on nature and the economy. A group of scientists led by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) found that the droughts between 2018 and 2020 represent a new benchmark in Europe. “No drought affecting such a large area for an extended period and coinciding with warmer temperature has occurred in Europe since the middle of the 18th century,” they said.

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