According to a study in Nature magazine, a severe summer drought in 2018 and 2019 put European forests and agricultural land under serious strain.
The consequences of those droughts are only now becoming fully apparent. While vegetation recovered quickly after a similarly severe drought in 2003, this time European forests are not recovering fast enough.
How heat waves are endangering Europe’s forests
Now, a similarly strong heat wave across the European continent is expected to put forests in Western and Central Europe under serious strain.
Take Germany, for example, where more than 1% of forests did not recover from last summer’s heat wave. And about 97% of them are not well equipped to survive future consequences of climate change.
Can Europe’s forests survive climate change?
That same study in Nature shows that in the next decades, extreme droughts are only expected to become more frequent across Europe, which will continue to affect soil fertility and biodiversity.
But there is still hope.
Because, if one looks closer, a pattern emerges: the trees that died last summer were mostly part of non-native tree plantations, whereas most of the country’s natural forests did survive the drought.
What does this mean? We need to push for a paradigm shift in how our governments understand and treat forests. From mere sources of timber and paper, to the living and complex ecosystems they are.
Watch our video for more details and for some suggestions on how we can all help protect the world’s forests.