22 Jul 2020, 13:22
Alex Dziadosz

Germany grapples with drought and dying forests despite more rain

Focus Online / Rheinische Post

Despite recent increases in rainfall, Germany is still grappling with the heavy effects of climate change – especially drought, which is killing forests and damaging harvests, writes Paula Schneider in Focus Online. Citing the drought monitor at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, the report states that “exceptional drought” is notable in layers of soil of up to 1.8 metres in depth, which remain dry even if higher layers are moistened by rain. Drought levels are particularly high in the country’s east, and many plants and trees throughout the country have been unable to cope with low levels of usable water, Schneider writes.

In the Rheinische Post, Bianca Mokka and Sina Zerhfeld write that trees are dying in the North-Rhine Westphalia region at a rate even higher than that of the 1980s, when forests were threatened by acid rain. “I have never experienced anything like this in my entire professional life,” the report quotes local forester Michael Herbrecht as saying. Herbrecht adds that trees are dying practically faster than they can be removed, with beech, larch, spruce, birch and oak all experiencing drought-related problems. The difficulties are worsened by the fact that two-thirds of local forests are privately owned, and many forest farmers have lost income because timber cannot be sold due to illness or infestation with bark beetles, the report notes.  

In April, agriculture minister Julia Klöckner said that an unusually dry spring was subjecting German forests to an "enormous stress test”. German farmers also expressed fears of more drought. In July, the increasing risk of prolonged droughts in central Europe led the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) to warn that Germany’s water management needed a "paradigm shift" to avoid supply bottlenecks.

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