For many of us, when we are feeling stressed or anxious, we escape to places like the forest to relax. But what if the forests are under stress? Due to climate change, summers are getting hotter and drier. As a result, the water table is dropping and young trees and shallow-rooted species can no longer reach that most important elixir of life: water. Signs of this so-called ‘drought stress’ include bare patches, dry tree crowns, bark beetle infestation or even the deaths of trees or entire forests.
Large-scale spruce monocultures, which prefer a wet, alpine climate, are particularly hard hit. In Saarland and the Rhineland, you can discover large areas of forest that have been razed to the ground by pests or storms. Our forests as we know them, Earth’s green lungs, are changing. But there is still hope to preserve them.
The many monocultures — plantations that primarily serve to supply us with wood — are being converted into diverse and species-rich mixed forests. New species from across the world, such as the Douglas fir and the black walnut, represent rays of hope for our woodland regions.
Within Germany, Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the regions most affected by climate change. Here, the average annual temperature is rising faster than in other regions. In 2019, new nationwide heat records were measured in Trier and Lingen.
In this Collection, we introduce you to five day Tours in Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate. You can explore the driest forest in Germany, look down from the vineyards of the Rhine Valley to the low water at the Seven Virgins, and wander through moors in Saarland that are so valuable for the climate. Different vantage points offer unique perspectives on the issue at hand. All of the Tours can be accessed by public transport or by car.
Natural forests give us so much. They filter pollutants from the air, bind large amounts of CO2 in both the soil and the wood, and provide us with valuable oxygen every day. It's time to give something back to them, because every individual can contribute to the preservation of our forests.
Climate change isn’t the only challenge we face. The extreme extraction of groundwater and the draining of wetlands for residential areas and farmland are making it increasingly difficult for trees to survive. Let's work together to conserve water and preserve our forests! The challenge is great, but it also offers opportunities, as the future could once again become more vibrant, species-rich and colorful.
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