Fortunately, the infection rate of the corona virus is currently flattening out due to the many measures that have been taken. This is good news. The economic problems caused by the pandemic, on the other hand, will occupy us all for a very long time to come. But beyond that, there are other important issues that are not being sufficiently considered or discussed given the current situation and have unfortunately left the public eye.
It is the responsibility of Bioeconomy e.V. to point out the devastating situation our regional forests are facing, especially when it comes to coniferous trees.
Millions of trees are currently dying in Saxony-Anhalt due to drought, storm and pest infestation. This primarily affects coniferous trees, but of course deciduous trees are also suffering from the conditions mentioned above. Spruce populations in the Harz Mountains are particularly hard hit and very large areas of forest have been destroyed. Forest owners are desperate and have been forced to capitulate. For example, the southern forest service of the state forest of Saxony-Anhalt has also decided to stop combatting the bark beetle throughout its entire spruce population.
Of the total area of forest in Saxony-Anhalt, approx. 20,000 hectares of forest (figures published by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture) has an estimated volume of damaged wood of over 12 million cubic meters. This puts Saxony-Anhalt in 5th place in a nationwide comparison.
However, the regional distribution of the damaged trees in Saxony-Anhalt must be taken into account. There is a devastating concentration of damaged trees in the Altmark region and, most especially in the Harz region. The situation in the forest is worsening dramatically with the continuing drought, high temperatures and the migration of the bark beetle, which has already resumed. In the Harz Mountains, especially in the Southern Harz region, the spruce population is expected to be totally lost.
These developments need to be brought to light. With the loss of wood resources, it is conceivable that there will not be enough raw timber available for the region’s high-performing timber industry. Moreover, this will hit forestry service providers and timber haulage companies just as hard, since forest owners will ultimately no longer be able to hire them.
There must be a collective effort to promote the rapid reforestation of the damaged areas with a suitable mix of tree species. This requires the urgent support of the state and federal governments. This mammoth task cannot be accomplished with the funds provided thus far.
Everyone involved in the forest-wood-chemicals value chain needs to understand how immensely important our forests are. In addition to their vital contribution to climate education, water storage and recreation for many thousands of people in the region, they provide a stable and cost-effective source of the renewable raw material wood for our wood and wood-based products industry, the pulp and paper industry, and increasingly the chemical industry. In this respect, we need everyone’s help in reforesting wide swaths of damaged forest!