Why are there so few old trees
# MDR clarifies Why the forest in the Harz National Park should die in order to live
What is the Harz National Park doing against the bark beetle?
In short: nothing. The long version: Affected spruce trees are felled or shortened on roads for safety reasons. At the edge of the national park there is also a 500 meter wide swath where the damaged trees are removed. This is to prevent the bark beetle from spreading to economically used forests. Because the bark beetle can threaten the existence of forest owners. Forest owners do not believe that the aisle extends to the national park border. The risk of a bark beetle infestation increases due to the proximity to the national park, says the chairman of the Forest Owners Association of Saxony-Anhalt, Franz Prince zu Salm-Salm.
At the heart of the national park, nature is given a free hand. This applies to 60 percent of the parking area - in 2022 it should even be 75 percent. Nature also means that the bark beetle let weak trees die, is the approach of the national park.
Is the forest in the Harz dying?
National park spokesman Friedhart Knolle says that only the old trees would die - and not the forest. The crisis would only arise if natural regeneration, the regrowth of young trees, no longer worked. But she does.
The dead, gray spruce trees look worrying. According to the national park, the bare trunks are a source of food for many living things such as mushrooms and insects. In addition, birds such as the woodpecker use the dead tree trunks for caves, and lynxes and wild cats can hide and raise their young in the dead wood. In addition, young spruce trees often grow directly on the fallen trunks.
What should happen to the forest in the Harz National Park now?
The spruce stands artificially planted by humans have little to do with the forest that occurs naturally in the Harz Mountains. The aim of the national park is for deciduous trees, especially beeches, to dominate the forest instead of spruce. Deciduous trees are said to make up two thirds of the forest at some point. So far it has consisted of 80 percent conifers.
How long does it take until the forest in the Harz Mountains is beautifully green again?
That cannot be predicted. The bark beetle is currently doing the destruction of the spruce forests very quickly. But the deciduous trees that are supposed to be there afterwards need decades to grow. And at the moment the weather conditions are not ideal for trees: it is far too dry. This could cause young trees to die.
However, changes can sometimes be seen relatively quickly in the forest, for example on the Meineberg near Ilsenburg.
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