The ministry of agriculture in Germany is now planning to offer 500 million euros state aid for the clearing of bark beetle infested areas as well as for reforestation and forest conversion.
Approximately half a billion euros could flow into German forests over the next four years, as part of emergency aid to save the forests.
This was announced on Thursday (20 August) by Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) after a meeting with representatives of the forestry industry, forest owners and nature conservation associations.
“Anyone walking through Germany’s forests today will see something dramatic,” said Klöckner.
Since last year, 110,000 hectares of forest have died, which is about the size of 150,000 football pitches. This is because extreme heat and storms are hitting the forests, as part of climate change’s first devastating impacts.
This is also alarming politicians, who have planned a forest summit for 25 September and are now eager to develop a forest strategy. Until then, it should also be determined how much emergency aid will be made available by the ministry of agriculture.
For the next four years, around €640 million from the federal energy and climate fund will be used to save forests damaged by the heat, according to Klöckner.
So far, the ministry has supported forestry policy with around €30 million a year, with an additional €10 million per year being allocated from 2020 onwards.
Besides, around €25 million will flow into research and sustainability, the ministry states.
However, even these funds are not sufficient, according to forestry representatives. The German Forestry Council estimates that at least €2 billion will be needed over the next ten years to cover the costs of repairing forest damage and replanting trees.
The council, which was also sitting at the negotiating table, is pushing for federal aid to go towards the removal of dead and damaged wood. In many tree trunks, bark beetles are nesting, destroying entire spruce stands and moving towards healthy trees.
According to the agriculture ministry estimates, the forest clean-up effort will involve extreme measures. More than 30 million cubic metres of deadwood caused solely by drought and storms, needs to be removed.
Deadwood will have to be replaced by deciduous trees, which are more resistant to the changing climate than the drier coniferous forests.
Reforestation with mixed trees has been going on for decades and is progressing well. Moreover, around one billion trees are available in tree nurseries, according to Klöckner.