European Wilderness Society

The German National Forest Summit – Rescue For The Forest?

In the end of September 2019 the German National Forest Summit took place in Berlin. In that summit, different stakeholders discussed the activities for saving the German forest in the future. However, the opinions on that differ much. One thing all can agree upon on is that rescuing the forest is going to be expensive. One of the topics was the question if a reforestation would be the best or leaving the forest for rejuvenate naturally. More than 140 researchers and scientists for example demand. change in forest management and are afraid that the German Forest Summit will only result in a continuation of old forest management principles not adequate anymore in light of climate change. Another discussion was fixing the price for the forest rescue. Many nature conservationists want more untouched forests. So, site adapted mixed forests can develop, which for example do not get root deformations through planting and are more resistant to calamities.

After the forest is recently in stress and vulnerable, some have already reported of a “forest dieback 2.0“. The topic of the forest loss is getting more and more present these days. No wonder due to past droughts, storms, bark beetle attacks and wildfires. So, cost analysis have been made. The entire removal of the damaged wood, would cost about €2.1 billion. Furthermore, about 300 million tree saplings will be necessary to reforest the areas. Also approximately €640 million will accumulate for additional costs. So far, according to the Federal Environmental Office of Germany, 180 000 hectares of forests are destroyed, 70 000 hectares more than originally assumed.

Please also read: EU Forest In Danger

Action from the forest summit

The plans and actions to safeguard the forest are diverse. For example, the 10-point plan of the Federation for Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND). This plan calls for future actions. Among other things, one action is reducing the human impact on forests to leave more areas untouched. Another is to use more forest personnel. Also, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation has published a position paper, in which natural and mixed forests are the major topics. Thus, the forest conversion will be highlighted in the future.

The action package from the Federal State has now provided a total of €547 million for the next four years. This amounts to €137 million per year for whole Germany. Plus the subsidies from the Federal States. Altogether, this should bring a total amount of around €800 million for saving the forest. However, the federal money should not only serve as compensation, but rather for a better adaption to climate change. In addition, the money will help, among other things, small private forest owners as well as starting the reforestation on damaged land and train more forestry personnel.

What is in the future?

Some forest owners find that, at least for the beginning, not sufficient. They demand for more money in the future. Like the German Forestry Council (DFWR), which calls for an emergency aid of €2.3 billion. The future will show how the plans will be implemented. Certain is that the way to more stable and mixed forests takes time but is already being established. The question, whether it is better to count on natural rejuvenation and leaving a wood surplus in the forest still remains.

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