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September 26, 2019

Merkel promises half a billion euros to revitalise German forests

Merkel promises half a billion euros to revitalise German forests

Angela Merkel’s government has promised more than half a billion euros to revitalise the country’s crisis-hit forests in the fight against climate change. At the emergency forest summit, which took place yesterday at the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin, Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner has pledged funds amounting to 547 million euros. Combined with the co-financing by the federal states this results in a sum of approximately 800 million euro. These funds are to be used within four years for the clearance of damaged wood and for reforestation.

Hans-Georg von der Marwitz, President of the umbrella organization AGDW said: ''The forest owners, assesses this support as a clear commitment to the forest and to sustainable forest management.''

The ministry has also updated the figures on damage in the forest. It estimates that more than 180,000 hectares of forest land have been damaged since the beginning of 2018 and around 105 million solid cubic meters of damaged wood have been damaged. Federal Minister Julia Klöckner therefore spoke at the forest summit of a "crisis summit".

Von Marwitz said that the variety of other relief measures presented by the Minister is positive: These include a national forest protection monitoring program for the systematic recording of the damage, beyond the expansion of research on climate-resilient tree species; the review and adjustment of the Forest Liability Compensation Act; tax relief in particular for heavily impacted forestry operations; facilitating the transport of the damaged timber from forests and strengthening the use of wood.

From the point of view of the AGDW President, three things are important: First, everything must be done to ensure that the measures are implemented. This includes breaking down various hurdles, says Marwitz, with a view to the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture Ministers meeting in Mainz on Thursday and Friday. The focus should be on simplifying support (including producing short and understandable grant applications) and on a solution to the de minimis rule, for example through a notification in Brussels. The promotion of forestry associations as a self-help institution of the small-scale private forest also needs to be brought into focus. The minister also raised these issues.

Second, the rewarding of the ecosystem services brought into the debate by the AGDW and promised by the ministry must remain on the agenda. This includes a CO2 tax, which benefits the forest for its climate protection performance.

And thirdly, the president called for the implementation of a timber construction initiative to increase the use of existing wood as a raw material. These include, for example, the changes to state building regulations and a wood quota for public buildings.

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