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Over Two-Thirds of the Forest is Ill

The BUND calls for an appropriate forest, agriculture, transportation and energy policy

About two-thirds of the forests in Rheinland-Pfalz are visibly damaged. Around 28% of all trees are seriously damaged, missing more than a quarter of their leaf or needle mass, with beech and oak the most affected. The Rheinland-Pfalz Forest Condition Report 2009 from the Environmental Ministry is alarming.

Causes of forest damage:

The main causes of continued forest damage are toxic air pollutants, soil acidifying emissions, greenhouse gases and poor forestry policies. The BUND has sharply criticized the official surveys in which only surviving trees were counted. Trees removed during the year as well as tree damages by natural disasters (storms, drought, heat, insects, etc…) were not included in the count and not given sufficient attention. The BUND also criticized the policies undertaken to mitigate the damage, including the spreading of lime on the forest floor to counter the negative effects of acidic emissions from agriculture and transportation. 

The BUND demands that state and federal governments multiply their efforts to develop an appropriate forest, agriculture, transportation and energy policy. Even though one-third of forests have no visible damage, their health is not guaranteed. Many problems are not visible to the naked eye and only become apparent later. Particularly threatening are the high emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides and ammonia. They further alter the forest soils, endangering groundwater supplies and cause an increase in ozone levels.

Forests are important for climate protection:

Due to its role as a carbon sink, the forest plays an important role in climate protection. Every year, Germanys forests sequester about 70 million tons of carbon. Because carbon sinks are essential, stronger commitment for forest protection is urgently need to help realize their full biologic potential. This is especially true for semi-natural, timber producing areas that should be left undisturbed.

Demands of the BUND:

In order to better protect forests against the effects of pollutants, the government must ensure comprehensive and consistent measures:

  • Support hunting and culling of deer herds
  • Increase efforts to sustain forest water systems in order to reduce flood and drought risk
  • Conserve old beech and oak trees due to their importance for biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential

Rigorous implementation of rural and forest management plans with qualified personnel in sufficient numbers