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The spruce has a fever

Heinz Studer falters still breathing when he thinks back to the 3. January 2018. Winter storm Burglind swept from the North across the country. Between Olten and Solothurn to the Wind squeezing through a crease in the Jura. He accelerated in a nozzle. He crossed the A1 motorway to cast trucks. A few Hundred metres further on he met on the forest, the Heinz Studer has been cultivated for 35 years.

Heinz Studer, head Forester of Niederbipp is now exactly at this point. Before him, a path will open. "Eight to nine hectares, folds over, just like that," he says. A similar harm he had never experienced. Not once during the storm Lothar.

Now Heinz Studer replants trees on this area. A new forest. A other forest. Before Burglind a good 80 percent of the trees were spruce, planted in the 1930s. Now, oaks, chestnuts, elms, and much more to grow. He think, says Studer, is that this was the right forest for the next century.

It will look very different

The scar in Niederbipp is a window into the future. The destructive power of Burglind makes a Transformation visible, which is currently in many places in Switzerland, in progress; but so slowly, that it remains almost unnoticed. The face of the forest changes. The spruce, which is often like an oversized toothpick in the forest, bolt straight, and with the bare stem, the most common tree in Switzerland, will be gradually replaced. By oak, beech, ash, elm, chestnut, cherry, maple, and other species. The change is striking: the Foliage instead of needles. Diversity instead of Monoculture.

the main reason for the change, the warming of the climate. With their shallow roots, the spruce against extreme weather is to be prepared for events such as droughts and storms are very bad. The warm temperatures also favour the spread of the bark beetle.

image to enlarge

A research programme of the Federal government came in, in 2017 the result that the spruce found in the second half of this century, "only in the higher altitudes of the Alps and pre-Alps, the Jura and the Ticino's favorable climatic conditions". In the Central plateau spruce are likely to be focused on shady, and especially well with water-powered sites.

Less mono-culture

But what do these changes mean for the natural ? What is forestry? And what for those who use the forest for recreation?

experts discussed these issues for a long time. Harald Bugmann, Professor for forest ecology, discussed at the beginning of the nineties, with the consequences of climate change for the mountain forest. The topic has continued to fascinate him since then.

Ecologically, the decline of the spruce-not a disaster, says Bowman. It is not in the lower elevations of Switzerland, actually, at home. Today's stocks are from the second half of the 19th century. Century selectively replanted, often in mono-cultures. "The development goes in the direction of a natural forest with more biodiversity."

The Norway spruce is regarded as the "bread tree". Your decline in the timber industry is threatened.

But how, exactly, the forest is the end of this century will look like, the can also a forest ecologist Bugmann not to predict. This is partly due to the fact that changes in forest cover require more time than in almost any other culture system. No Forester can reap what he sows. And no scientist can know what the climatic conditions will find the today planted trees in 50 or 100 years.

Because of these special conditions Harald Bugmann doing something that is unusual for a scientist who is convinced of global warming. He puts into perspective the pressure to act. It bring nothing, says Bowman, is to fall now in activism and the forests in a way a radical move. How high is the earth's temperature in the year 2100, slopes significantly from the CO2 emissions in the next 20 years. "In 2035, or at the latest 2040, we can decide how the forest of the future should look like." Until then, you should research, experiment, and a diverse forest to maintain. However, not all who take care of the forest, have so much patience. With their rapid Growth and soft wood of the spruce, the so-called bread-tree from the Swiss forest. The income of the spruce is already today the majority of the loss-making forestry operations more and more closely.

forest owners want subsidies

The fight for Survival of the forestry industry has long since reached the Federal house. Erich von Siebenthal, SVP national councillor and President of the Bern forest owners, hopes that the policy of domestic wood protects producers and the transition from the coniferous to the deciduous wood is active. Last autumn, he has also called for more Federal funds to combat the drought year 2018, the bark beetle.

a SVPler calls the state for help in order to cope with the consequences of the SVP doubted the validity of climate change ? Von Siebenthal is no contradiction of it. He notice the changes in the climate and in nature, he says. "The SVP has a strategy. I assess the Situation differently." Anyway, the help for the forest owner shall remain a temporary measure. "Exceptional situations require exceptional measures," he says.

another idea Daniel Fässler, CVP national councillor and President of the "forest Switzerland" Supreme forest owners in the country: "Through a targeted management of the CO2 storage capacity of the forest can be increased," says Fässler. The trade with certificates could save forest owners, revenues, and Switzerland to help them achieve their climate goals. Additional subsidies to be but also says Fässler. "Many of the services that the forest owners to provide today for the General public, are not compensated. In view of the catastrophic economic perspectives is a Problem."


In Niederbipp Heinz Studer, the trail returns to the back and gets into his forestry vehicle. Even if he works in the forest of the future, he has no precise idea of how it here will look if the traces of Burglind are repaid. It's more of a hunch. "You can imagine a forest, as he is today in Ticino or in the Provence." Smaller trees, thicker stems, and denser foliage.

Heinz Studer knows that he will see this forest never. He does not conceal the fact that he regrets that: "It will be an interesting forest."

(editing Tamedia)

Created: 24.04.2019, 18:17 PM

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