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26 Sep 2019, 13:55
Freja Eriksen

Germany earmarks 800 million euros to make its battered forests climate-resilient

Clean Energy Wire

Agriculture minister Julia Klöckner has promised more than 500 million euros from the federal government for the conversion of Germany's forests, which are suffering from the past years' storms, droughts, forest fires and bark beetle infestations. "We have a public interest in climate-resilient forests," said Klöckner at a national forest summit. If obligatory complementary budgets from Germany's federal states are counted in, a total of 800 million euros will be set aside to help the country's biggest ecosystems adapt to climate change. Around 180,000 hectares of damaged woodland, a little more than twice the size of Berlin,  must be reforested into climate-resilient mixed forests, the agriculture ministry stated in a discussion paper outlining proposed measures. Damaged trees should be removed from forests as soon as possible in order to avoid bark beetle infestations spreading further. At the same time, the paper proposed more support for small private forests as well as the expansion of research and monitoring of climate change's effects on forests.
At the summit, environment minister Svenja Schulze additionally called for subsidies for forest owners who primarily orient their land towards environmental and climate protection, not timber production. The IG BAU building, agriculture and environment industry union also called for an additional 11,000 forest specialists in the country. "The climate-friendly conversion of the forest - away from monocultures and towards mixed forests - is a mammoth task that can only be tackled with additional personnel," said IG BAU Deputy Chairman Harald Schaum.

Over the last few months, Germany’s forests have shifted into the focus of German climate policy efforts, leading Klöckner to call for the national forest summit. About 32 percent of Germany's area is covered by forests and according to the agriculture ministry, German forestry and timber use contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases by around 127 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents every year. The ministry estimates that the country's emissions would be 14 percent higher without the sector.

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