Large-scale forest fire in Czech Switzerland, but also dozens of small fires – this is also the summer balance of Czech forests. In some places, forest workers continue to clear wood after the bark beetle disaster, but they are also planting new trees. The slopes of Ondřejník Hill in Beskydy, for example, are turning green again. Radek Pokorno, Head of the Institute of Forest Creation and Forestry at Mendel University, described how to create forests that would not be destroyed by similar disasters.
It’s the end of summer, but let’s go back a few months to spring. Do you agree that this spring has been relatively good for the forests?
When I look at this spring and previous springs, I see that the springs are not good. This spring was good to the end. We had little rain during the winter, so the spring was relatively dry and cool. The rainy season began shortly thereafter. So I agree, but not until the end of spring.
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How did the extremely dry and hot summer in some weeks affect the forests?
Drought and heat are predisposing factors for bark beetle, its spread and gradation. The drought has been severe this year, and by repeating, it is only getting worse. We have already experienced a drought until August 20th. The rain did not start until after the twentieth century. Before that, we had about a quarter of the land in a really severe drought, especially in the western and northwestern part of the Czech Republic.
Does it make sense to plant trees during the summer, especially when the weather is as hot as it was this year?
Trees can be planted during the summer, but only the so-called rolled seedlings. We can think of it as a tree in a pot, that already has a root cover, so it has something to live on for a while. But you can not plant in such a severe drought. The tree simply could not withstand such pressure.
Are there enough seedlings of all kinds of trees or are nurseries sold in some cases?
The problem with kindergarten is that everything there is a little late. You get a delay before you collect the seed material and produce a seedling. Although we have technologies capable of producing, for example, beech wood in one growing season, a wide range of wood species is missing. We still focus on classic species, such as spruce, pine, beech and oak.
So these are the trees that often replace those that fell victim to bark beetles? Are there other types?
There are others, of course. We have most of the spruce seedlings, it’s just a matter of planting the spruce in suitable areas. This means where there is moisture. Humidity will be more in higher locations, on northern slopes or in valleys.
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I wouldn’t condemn the spruce as a tree, although historically there was a problem with it we knowWhere the situation reached frequent drought. But all trees have a chance. So, we have projects like risk management in forests or other, where we’re dealing with the types of trees that are likely to grow here in the year 2100.
What else can we do to make trees more resistant to pests and weather?
It is primarily about taking care to keep the risks to a minimum, which means taking care of creating larger species. The goal is to stop planting spruce, pine, or any trees in monoculture that are more susceptible to widespread decay, whether it’s a wind disaster, drought, pathogen occurrence, or beetle disaster. It is more about creating forests rich in structure and vertical composition.
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