06 Aug 2021, 13:20
Kerstine Appunn

Support programme for forest owners to ensure CO2 uptake and biodiversity - env ministry

Clean Energy Wire

A new funding model should link payments for climate protection performance for forest owners with ambitious biodiversity standards, the federal environment ministry (BMU) has proposed. The position paper adds to the ongoing debate in federal parliament and with the agriculture ministry (BMEL) on how carbon uptake by forests can be rewarded in the future. Environment minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) said that supporting forest owners with 1.5 billion euros after the drought years was the right idea, but future support needs to focus on the ecosystem services of forests. "The last few years have shown that many forests are not able to cope with the effects of climate change. However, it has also become obvious that damage in near-natural mixed forests is generally less severe,” she said. The BMU proposes focusing forest transformation on near-natural mixed forests with predominantly native species, taking more forests out of use and securing five percent of Germany’s forested area for natural development (goal of the national biodiversity strategy, 3.1% have been achieved). Financial support to forest managers needs to be geared towards these goals by rewarding climate protection services on the one hand and biodiversity services on the other.

Bernhard Krüsken, secretary general at the German Farmers’ Association DBV, said in a tweet that only commercially used forests can achieve their full climate protection performance. “For the forest to have a [carbon] sink effect, mature trees must be harvested and the areas sustainably reforested. This must also be rewarded in terms of climate policy,” he said.

Climate action advocates have stressed the need for a carbon sink and storage strategy in Europe and Germany but the deteriorating condition of Germany’s forests has raised questions about its ability to store more carbon. Extreme weather events in Germany have hit the forestry sector hard, resulting in damages of 13 billion euros over the past three years. The agriculture ministry’s Forest Condition Report 2020, which was published in February, showed that more surveyed trees died in 2020 than in any previous year.

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