Cluster Woodland and forestry

The picture shows two young foresters checking a bark beetle trap. One is holding a collecting device, one is taking notes in a notepad.Click to enlarge
Woodland and forestry
Source: Photograph: © Robert Kneschke / stock.adobe.com

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Table of Contents

 

Woodland and forestry

Germany’s woodland areas amount to approximately 11.4 million hectares which equates to roughly a third of the entire land surface. Owing to their multiple economic, social and ecological functions, woodland ecosystems are of particular importance. The Federal Forest Act therefore provides that woodland is to be conserved, and its functions are to be maintained and, where necessary, enhanced and its proper management is to be safeguarded.

Climate change and the associated greater frequency and intensification of extreme weather patterns such as heat and drought and possibly also storms combine to confront forestry with one of its greatest challenges. The impacts on the nation’s forests have to be taken very seriously as climate-related changes are progressing at unprecedented speed. These processes pose particular problems with regard to forests, as trees are long-lived and fixed in place, which means that over their entire lifespan, forest stands are exposed to a great variety of different environmental and growth conditions. If forests cannot adapt to environmental changes, this will result, not just in weakened trees, but in disrupting the entire forest ecosystem. Drought and storm damage as well as extensive pest infestations can lead to the loss of the forests’ protective function accompanied by increased soil erosion. The decomposition processes of decaying biomass entail increased green house gas emissions. Other potential consequences may be declining timber quality and reduced yields. Besides, an oversupply of timber that comes to market after major damaging events often involves price erosion. Forestry management which hitherto has dealt with long rotation cycles which require long-term planning will have to be able to respond very quickly. It means that future changes in terms of growth conditions will have to be taken into account without knowing precisely where and to what extent the actual changes will take place.

The National Forest Inventory (BWI) is revised every 10 years. The outcomes for the most recent decade surveyed, as incorporated in the 2019 Monitoring Report therefore date back to 2012. The years, 2018 and 2019 were marked by a combination of extreme drought, an above-average incidence of forest fires, bark-beetle infestations and storms, resulting in serious damage to forests and woodlands. As stated by the Federal Länder, the drought year 2018 produced approximately 32.4 million cubic metres of damaged timber. In 2018, fires alone caused the loss of stands over an area of 2,349 hectares. Specialists reckon that the figures for 2019 will reflect an even higher amount of damaged timber. Most seriously affected are spruce stands. There are indications, however, that deciduous trees such as European beech will have suffered serious damage. It will not be possible to illustrate these current developments until preparation of the 2023 Monitoring Report.

 

Effects of climate change

Adaptability of natural tree species (FW-I-1)

Spruce trees under increasing pressure (FW-I-2)

Changes in incremental growth (FW-I-3)

Forestry becomes riskier (FW-I-4)

Bark beetle – a major problem for spruce trees (FW-I-5)

Higher risk of forest fires (FW-I-6)

Climate-related crown defoliation? (FW-I-7)

 

Adaptations

Mixed forests – diversity spreads the risk (FW-R-1)

Proactive restructuring of forests – giving nature a helping hand (FW-R-2)

Targeted conversion of endangered spruce stands (FW-R-3)

Genetic diversity – key to adaptation (FW-R-4)

Humus – friend in need (FW-R-5)

Forestry information on adaptation (FW-R-6)