Big parts of Germany’s forests, once vibrant and lush, have become unrecognizable in just a few years. This dramatic change is happening not only in Germany but also across Europe and North America. Surprisingly, this transformation might be a good thing. To understand why, let’s go back to post-World War II. Germany, in ruins and needing to pay reparations, used timber as part of its payment, leading to the replanting of vast areas with spruce trees. This decision, while seemingly sensible at the time, created extensive monocultures vulnerable to climate change and pests.

Spruce trees, which need a lot of water and have shallow roots, suffer in the increasingly dry conditions caused by climate change. This weakness has allowed bark beetles to thrive, devastating large areas of forest. However, this devastation is not entirely negative. In places like the Harz National Park, where 90% of spruces have died, the absence of intervention has allowed nature to take its course, encouraging biodiversity and the growth of more resilient tree species.

Foresters are now focusing on planting a variety of trees, such as beech, oak, and Douglas fir, which are more adaptable to changing conditions. This shift aims to create more resilient forests that can better withstand future environmental challenges. While the loss of monoculture forests might seem tragic, it marks the beginning of a more diverse and resilient natural landscape.

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