A few weeks ago I was walking through the streets of my town, when suddenly I came across a protest, I was very surprised since the protesters were riding bicycles and there were posters warning about climate change, but there was a poster that caught my attention which said, "German forests are dying, 4 out of 5 trees are sick", I was shocked, and decided to find out about it.
Germany is par excellence a forest country, a third of this industrialized and highly populated country is covered with forests, in total about 11.4 million hectares. To give an example, from the door of my house to the nearest forest I have to walk 5 minutes and this has happened to me in different cities that I have visited, the forest is connected to the city. Germany is 33% made up of forests, with more than 90,000 million trees.
Forests fulfill many functions including protecting species, reducing the greenhouse effect, regulating water balance and protecting against erosion. Not forgetting the recreational value: studies show that a walk in the woods reduces blood pressure and stress levels. Awareness of forests in Germany is high because Germans frequently use these spaces for recreation and sports. 50% of citizens in Germany say they walk through forests at least every two weeks, a recent survey has revealed (Hallfahrt,P. 2018).
Forests in Germany and the world constitute one of the most important areas of work in the future, however the situation of the forests in Germany and in the world, is increasingly complicated, and many studies affirm that climate change has arrived to this country in a violent way.
More trees died in 2020 than in any other year on record, according to the government's annual report on the state of the forests. The study examined 10,000 trees nationwide and found that only 21% had an intact crown, an indicator of a tree's health, the lowest percentage since the studies began 37 years ago (Mckenzie,S. 2021)
Germany has faced a historic drought in recent years and 2018 was the warmest year since records began 140 years ago(Mckenzie,S. 2021). Huge forest areas have disappeared in recent years; forests destroyed for the construction of roads and an agricultural sector that requires more and more space for its crops. The death of forests is taking on an increasingly dramatic dimension, and the damage amounts to billions of euros.
To save the German forests, a huge effort is necessary. This also means that monocultures, which constitute 25% of the country's forested area (Dannemann, V. 2014) do not resist climate change, they must quickly transform into stable mixed areas, especially made up of pine and oak trees. Furthermore, making these changes requires staff. Things in Germany, however, are going slow.
Researcher Dohle is concerned: "In the last 25 years, half of the ranger posts have disappeared. The situation has gone so far that in Sajonia and Thuringia the army has had to be called on to fight bark beetles." (Pieper, O, 2019).
Our role as citizens is also important, committing ourselves to nature, making changes in our lives, and stopping consuming products that directly affect the world's forests, such as the consumption of soy, palm oil, meat, and fast fashion (I will write about this soon), plastics, etc. One thing that seems extremely contradictory to me in the fight against climate change is that in Germany there are many products with the seal of biological, fairtrade, etc., and a large majority of these products are packaged in single-use plastics., I cannot believe that producers cannot design eco-responsible packaging.
I want to think that we can reverse the effects of climate change, but this will not be possible if we do not become responsible consumers, remember that only 20% of the world population live in rich countries like Germany and they are the main polluters in the world, sending the direct consequences to the rest of the world, for example, people are beginning to be displaced in search of refuge due to direct consequences of climate change, especially on the African continent.
Take care of life, take care of the planet, it is in your hands.
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