Die-back may have ecological benefits

 

Until now clearing and reforestation has been the best strategy to recover a forest affected by Die-back, bark beetles, heat, drought, storms and fires throughout Germany, according to their Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Dead Ash from Die-back and dead spruce and beech from beetles are often seen by nature lovers who walk through the forests. The plan to reverse the damage usually consists of large scale clean-up followed by a reforestation programme. At least 500 million euros are needed for the programme and subsequent maintenance.

Preserving dead wood

The Government’s initiative has been considered as a “wrong strategy” by some ecologists from Julius – Maximilians- Universitat  (JMU) Wuerzburg in Bavaria. “This policy is likely to create extensive, even forest stands that remain particularly vulnerable to the impacts of future climate change”. Says the ecologist Simon Thorn.

The experts are calling for a radical change. They insist that the Government should reconsider the strategy and financial efforts to create forests resilient to future climate change. The scientists suggest not to remove dead wood and not to conduct reforestations on large scales.

For centuries, forestry has followed a clearing and reforestation plan. The consequences: a steady decline in biological diversity and the extinction of many fungi and insects that depend on dead wood. According to Thorn, this collides with the goals of the Government coalition that the dramatic decline should be halted. Instead, public subsidies must be aimed at preserving dead wood created by disturbances.

 

Credit: Sean McGinnis

          Ash die-back roadside in Athlone

 

Forest Dieback 2.0

In the 1980’s there was widespread forest damage in Central Europe, mainly caused by air pollution due to industry and traffic. At that time there was talk of “Waldsterben or “Forest Dieback”. The current catchword “Waldsterben 2.0” refers to this period. The addition “2.0” expresses that the current forest damage has other causes this time, namely climate change.

 


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