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.”