A third consecutive year of bark beetle calamity is expected to destroy the European spruce forests. The warm winter of 2019-2020 has aggravated the situation, and the coronavirus pandemic has limited interventions in the forests, and has also blocked domestic and export markets.
In the Vosges forests of France, the alert came early, in a press release dated April 16 from the Vosges Chamber of Agriculture: “We had already mentioned sporadic bark beetles signs of infestation in March, but the cold week of April 1 tempered the expansion. In the early hours of Monday April 6, the winter spruce trees had not yet been attacked. But a week later, in Easter Monday, the first attacks could be observed. The bark beetles will attack first the weakened trees. They will colonize these trees, reproduce and lay eggs there which will become larvae and then insects within 8 weeks “.
Alert in Wallonia: “A new infestation with bark beetles, insects which attack and weaken spruces, has been noted recently, and there are risks of a further increase in the number of beetles, which had already destroyed a million cubic meters these last two years in Wallonia. It is estimated that the volume of beetled spruces (public and private) amounted to 390,000 m3 in 2018 and 600,000 m3 last year “.
The fact that in almost all of southern Sweden it has been a winter completely without or with extremely little snow is now evident in the fact that there is extremely little water in the fields. The levels are now well below normal or even extremely low throughout southern Sweden and along large parts of the Norrland coast. The drought and lack of snow melt in recent weeks means that groundwater levels are now rapidly declining in many parts of the south. All this favors the bark beetle attacks, which in Southern Sweden has caused much troubles in the past 2 years.
In Bavaria, and more generally in Germany, certain regions lack water and the trees are already under stress which weakens them in the face of the new threat.
It seems that in Europe, the Covid-bark beetle-drought cocktail risks to provoke a cataclysm for forests and the processing sector, even if it is still too early to assess its extent.