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Half of Luxembourg trees clearly damaged

Half of Luxembourg trees clearly damaged

by Yannick LAMBERT 07.03.2022 From our online archive
Years of drought helped seriously degrade country's forests, study found
Drought, heat and parasites such bark beetles damage trees in Luxembourg, such as these spruces
Drought, heat and parasites such bark beetles damage trees in Luxembourg, such as these spruces
Photo credit: John Lamberty

Half of Luxembourg's trees are badly damaged or already dead after a series of dry years, representing what may lie ahead with climate change, the environment ministry said on Monday.

Extreme summer heat, drought and more parasites such as the bark beetle are responsible for 51% of Luxembourg's trees in forests showing clear or heavy damage, a study conducted last summer by Luxembourg's Nature and Forest Administration found. Some of the troubled trees might still recover, agency representatives said at press conference. Fewer than a third were considered badly damaged in 2018.

Limited rain between 2018 and 2020 was particularly responsible for this degradation, with the "more normal year of 2021 not being enough for a recovery", Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg said. 

The study examined around 1,200 trees from across the Grand Duchy and looked at factors including foliation, leave colour and parasites such as insects or fungi. Around a third of Luxembourg is covered in forests. 

Beeches were particularly affected, with only 1.4% of them showing no sign of damage, down from 3% in 2020 and close to 13% in 2018 before the consecutive dry years, the study said. Nearly three-quarters were seriously struggling last summer, the study said. 

Among oak trees, 45% were clearly or badly damaged, an improvement over 2020 when it was more than half, but much worse than in 2018 when it was less than 30%.

Resiniferous trees such as spruces are doing better overall, with only 37% badly damaged. That's still a significant increase compared to 16% in 2018.

A report published by the OECD group of wealthy nations at the end of 2020 said that Luxembourg's biodiversity had been in decline for 40 years, and identified  crowded roads, low taxes on fuel, natural destruction from farming and rapid economic growth as the main factors contributing to it.

Water pollution has also been identified as an environmental threat in Luxembourg in several reports, such as one by the German think tank Bertelsmann.

Last spring, Luxembourg introduced new subsidies to promote biodiversity and climate-resilient forestry.   

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