Some 80% of German trees suffer from crown dieback, according to the government’s annual forest report published on Tuesday. The report also draws attention to severe droughts in the country over the past few years. The annual report, which was commissioned by the German Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, points to “worrying” results”. “The forest is a patient who needs our help,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Cem Özdemir said in a statement.
On crown dieback – the dying of branches and branch tips that is seen as a sign of stress, pest or disease – the study found that the state of German forests did not improve in 2022 compared to the year before, and the share of trees not affected by the condition stagnated at 20%. The high share of unhealthy trees in German over the years can be explained by the fact forests were not able to recover from the dry years Germany has seen since 2018, the ministry added. “Our most valuable ecosystem suffers the consequences of the climate crisis,” Özdemir said. “Only healthy forests store carbon and act as our natural air conditioners,” he added.
“We must continue to act decisively so that our forests can withstand drought and higher temperatures in the future,” he stressed, adding this would mean creating mixed forests rather than monocultures. In the summer of last year, Özdemir presented a €900 million support programme to support climate and biodiversity measures in forestry. However, since the funds are set to be disbursed over multiple years, many have said the package is too small.
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