NewsExpert calls for rethinking forest firefighting in Germany: "Just...

Expert calls for rethinking forest firefighting in Germany: "Just lagging behind"

Created: 7/27/2022 9:54 p.m

Tschechien, Hrensko: Ein großer Waldbrand im Nationalpark Böhmische Schweiz nahe der Grenze zu Sachsen.
Czech Republic, Hrensko: A large forest fire in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park near the border with Saxony. © Hajek Ondrej/CTK/AP/dpa

Germany is affected by several forest fires this summer. An expert sees us lagging behind in comparison to other countries and wants to improve the fight.

Bonn/Freiburg – Forest fires are becoming more and more common in Germany. The extreme temperatures of man-made climate change ensure longer and more severe droughts and dryness in this country as well. Of course, they favor the fires, even if the cause is almost always man himself, as meteorologist Jörg Kachelmann emphasizes. In 95 percent of cases, humans are the direct cause. Both together then cause serious forest fires like in Brandenburg or in Saxon Switzerland, where the fire brigade has been fighting the flames for days.

Forest expert: New strategies needed to fight forest fires

According to the forest scientist Alexander Held, new approaches are now needed to fight forest fires in Germany. “What we are seeing now in terms of fire behavior is typically seen in Spain and Portugal. We’re just lagging behind in terms of training, strategy, tactics, but also equipment,” said Held on the phoenix television station. The topic is known and new training concepts and documents are being worked on together with fire service schools. However, one is being “overtaken on the right” by the current development.

The aim is fire management, which includes the fire brigades and the extinguishing of fires as elementary building blocks. However, there are 15 other building blocks, such as agriculture and forestry, environmental education, awareness-raising, tourism – all actors should preferably work in a coordinated manner in the same direction “towards the same vision of a more resilient landscape, only then can the fire brigade do their jobs safely and effectively fulfill”.

Forest fires: Germany lags behind – expert calls for richly mixed forest

Held complained that there had been discussions for years about remodeling the forest to make it more natural, but there too they were lagging behind the rapid development. The recipe for the future is a forest that is as richly mixed and complete as possible. Then, without introducing new tree species, one could create and manage a forest landscape “that is less combustible and, when it burns, burns more slowly and does not cause as much damage”.

In order for this to succeed, the actors in agriculture and forestry would have to push ahead with this forest conversion combined with short-term technical measures such as the creation of protective corridors “with much more emphasis”. Held is an expert in forest risk management at the European Forest Institute (EFI). (md with dpa)

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