Forestry expert interview: “the french forests are not doing well at the moment”

Forestry expert interview: 'the french forests are not doing well at the moment'

The spruce becomes the "bread tree of the frankenwald" called. However, the shallow-rooted trees are also susceptible to storms and bark kafer. How the frankenwald is currently doing and whether the bark beetle can be dangerous to it, we talked to the head of the nordhalben forestry operations fritz maier:

mr. Meier, how are the french forests doing at the moment??
The french forests are not doing well at the moment. The months of drought combined with the high temperatures have led to the following developments:
a) insufficient water supply to the trees leads to reduced growth, drought damage and reduced resistance to insects (such as the bark beetle), especially in shallow rooted tree species (such as spruce).
B) young trees planted in the forest in spring have partly dried out completely, because they could not suck enough water from the soil with their still small roots.
C) intensive development of insects (such as bark beetles on conifers or oak processionary moths on deciduous trees) leads to damage to individual trees and entire forest stands and, for example in the case of oak processionary moths, locally also to impairments for humans.
D) tree seeds like beechnuts develop less well in many places, they stay smaller and are less vital (for example beechnuts).
E) high risk of forest fire due to dried out forest floor with dry needles and already partly falling leaves.

What role does the forest play in franconia??
One third of our country consists of forest. The paramount importance of the forest is related to its multiple functions and effects on people and the environment. As examples are mentioned:
a) oxygen production and carbon sequestration of climate damaging substances like CO2.
B) water purification, flood protection and balanced groundwater supply through natural mixed forests.
C) living (and thus surviving) space of diverse animal and plant species.
D) source of income for forest owners and job for the whole cluster "forest and wood" (i.E. From the forest worker to the woodcutter and the sawmill to the paper mill or to the carpenter or joiner).
E) rough recreation and experience space for local people and all visitors.
F) producer and supplier of a sustainably produced, regionally available and sought-after raw material (wood of various tree species)

heat and drought have taken their toll on nature in the past few weeks: how is the frankenwald doing??
In the franconian forest we are coming out of last year’s good situation, namely few bark oats and many rainfalls in late summer and autumn as well as a winter with snowfall. Nevertheless, the limit for more serious damage (especially by insects) is now exceeded and such damage is increasingly occurring. The frankenwald with its water permeable soil of slate rock dries out even faster than other low mountain ranges.

Which tree species and how many trees are there in the frankenwald?? Throughout northern bavaria?
The frankenwald is still strongly dominated by spruce due to human influences from the past. However, the number of beech trees and deep-rooted fir trees planted by the bavarian state forests in the state forest and by private and communal forest owners or naturally rejuvenated from tree seeds is increasing. The proportion of the more drought-resistant coniferous species douglas fir is also increasing. Other tree species such as sycamore and norway maple or cherry on nutrient-rich soil as well as birch and aspen on open areas complement the mixed forest, which in the state forest should be composed of at least four different tree species in each forest stand according to the four-tree concept.

Apart from the low mountain ranges of the frankenwald, fichtelgebirge and rhon, there are also large deciduous forest areas in northern bavaria (e.G. Spessart and steigerwald), where spruce hardly plays a role and instead beech, oak and other deciduous trees (e.G. Hornbeam, oak, oak) play an important role. (littleleaf linden, large-leaved linden) dominate the forest landscape.

There is an incalculable number of trees in the frankenwald because millions and millions of tree seeds fall to the ground every year through natural seeding alone, many of which germinate and become small trees, but then grow into a few hundred coarse trees per hectare of forest over decades in the course of a long competition for light and water.

What hazards are the trees exposed to?
From the seed to the more than 100 years old tree, there are numerous influences of auben.

Drought and mice destroy tree seeds, russel oats and deer as well as hares damage young plants, wet snow in winter breaks trees, storms topple single trees or whole groups of trees and insects feed on needles and leaves or can cause trees to die (like the bark beetle).

What role do pests play? Which are the "main players"??
Insects that live on, in or from trees are numerous. Trees are adjusted to it in normal years and as a species can handle it well. In special years, however, individual insect species can multiply explosively and become a forest-destroying danger.
The main actors on coniferous trees are the bark beetles, while on deciduous trees it is rather the caterpillars of butterfly species such as spider or moth species.

Bark beetles once again find the best conditions for reproduction this summer: they have already reached france too?
Yes, bark beetle infestation is just beginning to cause serious damage in several areas (including the frankenwald).

More than 80 percent of the frankenwald is covered with spruce trees. Does this increase the risk of a pest infestation??
The more monotonous a forest is, the greater the risk of damage. The mixed forest of at least four different tree species should therefore be the goal for the next forest generation.

How can an infestation be controlled retrospectively??
Forest owners can only contain the infestation and further spread of the bark beetle. Regular search in the forest for signs of the infestation (brown boreholes on the trunk or in bark scales, resin discharge at the boreholes on the trunk, many fallen needles around the tree or already red twigs in the crown) and then the fastest possible felling of the infested trees with removal from the forest (at least 500 meters away) limit the further propagation of bark beetles.

What had to be done to minimize the danger of an infestation in the long term??
The near-natural mixed forest of several tree species is the precaution that the state forest and the private forest owner can take. This accompanied by regular controls in our own forest and consistent forest protection through bark beetle control will hopefully secure all forest functions also for the future.

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