- Title: German army called on to battle bark beetles
- Date: 28th August 2019
- Summary: AUGUSTUSBURG, GERMANY (AUGUST 27, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** BARK BEETLES CRAWLING OVER TREE BARK BEETLE UNDER BARK BARK BEETLE CRAWLING VARIOUS OF LOG PILE IN FOREST GERMAN ARMY SOLDIER SHAVING BARK OFF TREE (SOUNDBITE) (German) SERGEANT MAJOR MATTHIAS STENMILDT, SAYING: "I freed this log of its bark that you see here, which we do to reduce the number of bark beetles, which live under the bark, developing from larva to beetles. When you remove the bark it dries out and that kills the larvae before they can metamorphose into finished beetles." BARK BEETLE LARVAE ON BARK BARK BEETLE BURROWING SOLDIER DISCUSSING TACTICS WITH COLONEL KLAUS FINCK HELPERS WITH CHAINSAWS HEADING INTO FOREST (SOUNDBITE) (German) COLONEL KLAUS FINCK, SAYING: "It is a real plague! The Saxon government estimates that this is the most serious plague since even before the first records of forest health statistics. Millions of cubic metres of wood is in danger. This is not just a matter for the forestry sector it is a climate issue, it's a question of sustainability and so of course a problem for the regulation of oxygen and water circulation." VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS AND FORESTRY WORKERS SAWING AT LOGS SAXONY ENVIRONMENT MINISTER, THOMAS SCHMIDT TALKING TO ARMY SOLDIER SHAVING OFF BARK (SOUNDBITE) (German) SAXONY ENVIRONMENT MINISTER, THOMAS SCHMIDT, SAYING: "We are just ahead of the first flight of the third generation of bark beetles. In normal years there are only two generations. Each generation grows 40 times the size of the previous generation. So if we don't manage to get the infected trees out of the forest in the next four to six weeks before this first flight starts, then it will be very difficult to get it under control in October. This is the exact right time to get the trees out and we are very grateful that the army is helping us." SOLDIER SHAVING WOOD OFF LOG (SOUNDBITE) (German) SAXONY ENVIRONMENT MINISTER, THOMAS SCHMIDT, SAYING: "It is a catastrophe that started last year, and we really have to call it a catastrophe. In Saxony we cut 2.3 to 2.4 million cubic metres of wood and since last year we have seen damages worth more than 5 million. 3.9 million, is storm damage and 1.3 million damage has come from the bark beetles. Now there is the fear that it will really explode if the third beetle generation is able to take flight." FOREST WORKERS FORESTRY EQUIPMENT
- Embargoed: 11th September 2019 15:58
- Keywords: bark beetles Germany drought dying forests army aid Southern Harz Brandenburg
- Location: AUGUSTUSBURG + SOUTHERN HARZ, GERMANY
- City: AUGUSTUSBURG + SOUTHERN HARZ, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001AU4VGAV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: It's the battle of the bugs. Germany's forests are under attack and in an attempt to stave off a catastrophe the army has been called in to help defend the long-suffering trees from ravenous beetles.
After two hot, dry summers, the bark beetle is on the march and foresters and the German army are working against the clock to stall the beetle larvae development before the next generation become adults and take flight.
Each generation of beetles that manages to spread themselves causes the species to multiply by some forty percent. In Brandenburg and Saxony's forests the battle has begun to stop the so-called third generation from swarming out into the woods.
Foresters estimate that forest losses could more than double by the end of this year. Last year, forest fires consumed an area of forest equivalent to 3,300 soccer pitches.
In Saxony alone, the region's environment minister Thomas Schmidt told Reuters TV there was 1.3 million cubic metres worth of damage caused by beetles in 2019, and that is in addition to storm and drought damage.
The degradation of the forests, which are at the heart of Germany's cultural identity, challenges the country's image of itself as environmentally conscious and has shocked a public sensitised to the issue by deforestation in the Amazon.
Drought has lowered water tables to the point where even the deep roots of centuries-old trees are unable to reach them. In turn, dryness weakens the defence mechanisms that protect trees from the burrowing bark-beetle.
In a forest in Augustusburg in Saxony in eastern Germany, soldiers are working on mitigating the damage already done, felling trees that have been infested with beetles so that the wood can be salvaged.
"We're dealing with a plague that according to the Saxony government is the most serious we've seen," said Klaus Finck, an army colonel. "Millions of cubic metres of wood are in danger."
But the salvage operation brings further costs: the sudden glut of wood has driven down prices, pushing an already challenged industry into still deeper crisis.
From the 19th century romantics who saw the German nation's origins in the tribes who crushed Rome's legions in the Teutoburg forest two millennia ago to the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, forests have been a staple of German identity: In a country of 80 million, over 2 million people own woodland.
That makes for a large constituency of forest owners for whom the funding offered up by the environment ministry does not go nearly far enough. On Wednesday, the Forest Owners' Association demanded 2.3 billion euros in immediate aid to speed wood clearance and for owners to be granted carbon credits in exchange for the gas they sequester.
After a second summer in which all-time heat records were set, fears over climate change are rising and experts warn that more is at stake than preserving landscapes beloved of 19th century poets.
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