A beetle forces the forest to be converted

Climate damage has severely affected forestry in recent years. Other tree species such as the Douglas fir and a CO2 certification should secure the future.

Doesn't look good: damaged forest in Hesse.

DThree extremely dry summers and the bark beetle have left their mark on German forests. Around 300,000 hectares of forest were destroyed and had to be cut down. The raw wood price fell by more than 50 percent due to the larger supply. “This is a huge problem for the industry,” said Eckbrecht von Grone, co-head of the land and forest division at the international real estate consultancy Colliers, in an interview with the FAZ , are clear: In private forest operations, the average net yield fell from 195 euros per hectare in 2018 to 60 euros in the following year. 80 million cubic meters of wood were felled in Germany last year because of the major damage. That is a very high figure. The average over the past few years has been 50 to 60 million cubic meters.

And just a quarter was planned, regular impact in 2020. “More than half were beetle damage,” said von Grone. In addition to the bark beetle, the many storms struck – 13 percent of the logging can be attributed to it. These are really catastrophic numbers, said the forest specialist. “It’s an emergency.” The many storms, the extremely dry summers and the resulting increase in bark beetles have destroyed around 300,000 hectares of forest, an area roughly equivalent to the area of ​​the Saarland. There were 160 million cubic meters of damaged wood. Anyone who walks attentively through the German forests can see the still tense situation with the loss of needles and leaves in the treetops. Only every fifth tree is currently free of damage, according to the Colliers market report.

The consequence: climate change and prolonged periods of drought force the forest to be rebuilt. “The proportion of hardwood has increased at the expense of the proportion of softwood – especially in the case of spruce,” reported Nils von Schmidt, co-chairman at Colliers. Softwood makes up about 55 percent of the German forest. The spruce is still number one with the pine, but the bark beetle has just hit it massively. As a result, the spruce recently made up around 50 percent of the felling. Forest conversion has been carried out in the Federal Republic for years. “Forestry doesn’t have to learn that now,” said von Grone.

“Maybe the cedar is better than the beech”

For this year, Grone and the experts from Colliers expect clear signs of a recovery. “We are assuming that a sustainable operating return, i.e. without increasing the value of the land, of 1.5 percent annually can be achieved with German forest investments,” it says. But even deciduous forests are not a panacea for making forestry fit for climate change, because the water table is also falling. “We have to look for other tree species because of climate change,” said von Grone. “Perhaps the cedar is better than the beech if it no longer finds enough groundwater.” Most of the trees that are promising for German forests come from the Mediterranean area, according to von Schmidts. “We need a broader portfolio of tree species in the forest,” he demanded. It is no longer in keeping with the times to limit oneself to the four main local tree species known from spruce, pine, beech and oak.