When we are stressed, we escape to the forest to relax. But what if the forest itself is under stress? Due to climate change, summers are becoming hotter and wetter. As a result, the water table is falling and young trees and shallow-rooted species can no longer reach this vital elixir of life. Signs of this so-called drought stress include bare patches, dry tree crowns, bark beetle infestation and even the death of the tree.
Large-scale spruce monocultures which prefer a wet, alpine climate, are particularly badly affected. In every German state, but also in Austria and Switzerland, you can discover forests where large areas have been razed to the ground by pests or storms.
Our forests as we know them are changing. But there is still hope to preserve our green lungs. Many monoculture plantations, areas of single species that serve primarily as wood suppliers for us humans, are being converted into diverse and species-rich mixed forests. Species from other regions of the world, such as the Douglas fir and the black walnut, are also a ray of hope.
In this Collection, we present seven day Tours covering Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. From vantage points, towers or treetop paths you can see the bare patches in the canopy particularly well and have an overview of the forests. On the suspension bridge in the Bear Valley, you can discover one of the driest areas in Germany.
In Saxony-Anhalt, you'll hike to an episodic lake that can simply disappear as if by magic – a bitter taste of what lies ahead. In the Leipzig floodplain forest, you'll get to know an urban forest that is increasingly drying out. Most of the hikes can be reached by public transport and some only by car. All Tours are easy to do and require average stamina.
Natural forests give us so much: they reliably filter pollutants from the air, bind large amounts of CO2 in the soil as well as in the wood, and provide us with valuable oxygen every day. It is time to give something back to them and every individual can contribute to the preservation of our forests.
It’s not only climate change but also the extreme extraction of groundwater and the draining of wetlands for residential areas and farmland which is making it increasingly difficult for trees to survive. So, let's save water and preserve our forests together! The challenge is great, but it also offers opportunities. The future could become more species-rich and colourful again if we all just do our small part.
Although beeches are particularly drought-resistant, tree deaths occurred in the Hainich National Park (one of the largest original beech forests in Germany) due to the unusually dry summers. Ancient giant trees showed damage such as brown leaves, dry branches or even died completely. The effects of climate change are analyzed here in regular workshops and strategies for the Hainich beech forest are developed.
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