For many of us, when we're feeling stressed or anxious, we escape to places like the forest to unwind. 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 all-important elixir of life: water.
Signs of this so-called ‘drought stress’ include bare patches, dry tree crowns, bark beetle infestation or even the death of trees or entire forests. This is a stress that also affects our raised bogs. The lack of precipitation threatens the valuable habitats that provide a home for so many rare animals and plants.
Our forests as we know them, Earth’s green lungs, are changing. But there is still hope to preserve them. 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.
Even the raised bogs, which suffered for years from peat cutting and drying up as a result, are gradually being naturalised, re-watered and placed under special protection. We are starting to repair the damage that has been done.
In this Collection, we present six day Tours in the Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg regions of south Germany. Each Tour allows you to gain perspective on the area’s unique raised bogs and to understand why these wetlands are so important. You gain insight into the dry tree tops of the once-green Black Forest and learn from the example of lakes and rivers what it means for the environment when precipitation is lacking and groundwater is sinking. The hikes reveal the hidden beauty of these two federal states, but also open your eyes to the ever-growing difficulties faced by nature here.
Near-natural forests give us so much: they reliably filter pollutants from the air, bind large amounts of CO₂ in both the soil and the wood, and provide us with oxygen day after day. Peatlands not only provide a habitat for flora and fauna, they also store water and improve its quality. Now is the time to give something back, because each and every one of us can contribute to the preservation of our forests and peatlands.
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.
Although the Steigerwald is a mixed deciduous forest, clear traces of the persistent years of drought can also be seen here. In Bavaria, in some forest areas, 70 percent of the trees are damaged or even dead. In the hot summers of recent years, the spruce and pine trees in particular have suffered, but in the Steigerwald the beeches and oaks are also struggling to survive.
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A lack of precipitation is also a problem for our lakes and rivers. For example, forty centimeters less water than normal was measured in Lake Starnberg in 2018. That was the lowest level in 110 years. Downward trend. The lake southwest of Munich has not lost its beauty as a result, but who knows how the water level will develop in the coming years?