2018 + 2019: Two hard years for the forests of Lower Saxony
In January 2018, storm Friederike whipped through the forests at speeds of up to 200 km/h, leaving behind unbelievable damage. The quantities of storm-damaged wood were immense. It is precisely in such disasters that quick action must be taken. The roads must be cleared and the wood must be processed. Once the bark beetle has discovered the storm-damaged wood, drilled itself into it and reproduced, the bark beetle population rises sharply from large quantities of material suitable for breeding, resulting in mass reproduction and infestation of weakened, still living spruces. Thus, in 2018 and 2019, in connection with the unusually warm and dry weather conditions, which still favored the development of the bark beetles, mass reproduction of the beetles occurred. Many forests that had survived the storm fell victim to the voracious bark beetles and died.
But also other tree species such as beech suffered enormously from heat and especially from drought, so that in many places also beech forests began to die off in large areas.
Climate change is changing everything, including the bark beetles' living conditions
Weather patterns such as those in 2018 and 2019, with extremely hot and dry summers and mild winters, and a simultaneous increase in extreme events such as storms, are expected to become more frequent in the future as a result of climate change. Like many other pests, bark beetles are also favored by these conditions, so that they reproduce on a massive scale. Even healthy trees have no chance to defend themselves against such numbers.
The urgency of mixed forests
The development of the last years shows on the one hand how important it is to convert the old spruce forests into mixed forests. On the other hand, it also shows that this is a matter of great urgency due to climate change and the consequences for the spruce forest. However, it is not possible to start planting wildly. The foresters have to consider factors such as soil type, location, nutrient balance and water supply, because not every tree thrives in every soil. It is also important to consider now how the conditions for the trees will change in the future, because even in 100 years the trees must be able to cope with the conditions then prevailing and withstand extreme weather conditions. This is the only way to ensure that the forest will also be available to future generations as a climate protector, wood supplier, recreational and living space.
- Daniela Richter
- Torben Franzke
- Christoph Hartmann
- John MacGoey
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