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Environmentalists urge better forest care

The Local · 13 Jan 2012, 06:00

Published: 13 Jan 2012 06:00 GMT+01:00

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The “Kyrill” storm in January 2007, was the most violent windstorm ever to hit the country. It killed 11 people and caused more than €7.7 billion in damages throughout northern and central Europe. It also severely damaged vast tracts of forest in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Hessen, Thuringia and Lower Saxony.

But environmental experts said much of that could have been avoided if mixed species of trees had been planted in German forests in the first place. Many woodlands consist of just one particular type of tree – often of the quick growing coniferous variety.

A forest consisting of the same type of tree, particularly weaker, quick growing species, has a higher risk of storm damage than mixed forests which are naturally designed to withstand strong winds.

The government announced post-Kyrill that reforestation of Germany’s wooded areas would include introducing more diverse trees to the worst-hit areas, but environmentalists have complained that although reforestation has taken place, promises of species diversity have never really been fulfilled.

“Kyrill was hugely damaging to the forest eco-system” said Hubert Weiger of the environmental group BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany). “But still only few recognise the need for stronger forests.”

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The Local/DAPD/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

07:28 January 13, 2012 by pepsionice
For years, I sat and watched the local forest "meisters" plant pines. That's the only tree that I ever saw planted. I know it's the cheapest tree, and the most likely tree to survive.....but the comments are correct in that it doesn't have the root system to survive huge wind storms. The negative side of this is that planting costs will go up dramatically if they start looking at other tree options. And the negative of other types of trees will be that you don't notice results in ten short years.....which Germans like to feel positive that things are back to normal after a decade.
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