Since mid-April, bark beetles have also been spotted in large parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In addition to infestation of fresh stormwood that is still in the forest, standing timber infestation is also reported in many places. With the mild winter followed by an excessively dry spring, which further weakens the spruce, the bark beetles spread met the best conditions.
While efforts are focused on cleaning up the damage from the Sabine storm and thus reducing the outbreaks of bark beetles while controlling the fire risk, it is almost impossible to sell the damaged wood. The prices dropped (around € 35 / m3) or even no longer exist for wood that is not included in existing contracts.
The transport also stopped due to the coronavirus crisis and forest services suffer consequently from the authorization of higher tonnages. Export markets are in a state of emergency. The DACH countries agree that this year will represent a great challenge. Here are the estimates in terms of volumes and areas attacked, by country:
In Switzerland, the bark beetle is already present in the entire north side of the Alps and occasionally in the rest of the country. In addition, a lot of storms and other damaged wood had to remain in the forest. In 2019, the Nordic spruce bark beetle (Ips duplicatus) from Scandinavia and Russia was first discovered in Switzerland. According to tagblatt.ch, experts say that it will spread all over Switzerland. No special countermeasures are needed, since the usual way of combating bark beetle also affects the new species. Only the cutting of infected spruce trees in winter can stop the spread of the bark beetle.
Lower Austria, Upper Austria and part of Styria record favorable temperatures for bark beetles, some of which were already visible in January.
Similar things happen in Germany. In warmer locations up to 800 m above sea level, infestation in Bavaria began in mid-April. In Middle and Lower Franconia as well as in Lower Bavaria, traps were occasionally above the warning threshold for infestation of 3000 bark beetles / trap / week.
In Baden-Württemberg, vigilance is essential. The embargo on the logging of fresh softwoods has been extended.
In Thuringia, the infestation was visible at Easter and a third generation of beetles is expected, despite the fact that it has been possible to largely destroy the larvae refuges. Among other things, ThuringiaForst hired almost 100 additional forest protection helpers and coordinators last year. So far, the low mountain ranges such as the Thuringian Forest and Southern Harz have been able to replenish their soil with water storage reserves over the autumn and winter months, but regions in the lower areas of Eastern and Northern Thuringia still have considerable deficits.
In Hesse, HessenForst expects the number of bark beetles to increase again this year. All forces are therefore focused on the removal of damaged wood. The top priority is to save the intact forest stands in East and South Hesse.
The bark beetle season also started in Saxony in mid-April, as the Ministry of Forestry informed. Where infestation has not yet begun (especially in the cooler low mountain ranges), the focus remains on getting away infested trees and stormwood.
In the particularly dry Saxony-Anhalt there were even four generations of bark beetles in 2019. There are simply no buyers for the damaged wood.
In Brandenburg, however, the first forest fires of the year have so far been more worrying than the insects that are already active. Either way, the drought is present and expected to favour the bark beetle spread.
In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the first infestation signs were visible on April 15. The very high temperatures create a very favorable ground for new attacks.
In Rhineland-Palatinate, and in Saarland, the infestation started on April 16 and should continue, while the export of logs to China has stopped.
North Rhine-Westphalia: The bark beetles are everywhere except in the extreme south.
Lower Saxony: for the time being, rain and low temperatures are delaying the infestation.
Schleswig-Holstein: low temperatures, few bark beetles, but this could change quickly, so the forests of the north are placed under close surveillance.
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