Czech forests recording worst damage in fifteen years

Photo: CTK

Foresters around the country are busy clearing the damage of last week's gale force winds. The extent of the devastation is still being assessed but latest estimates say four and a half million cubic metres of wood were affected - the worst damage recorded in the last fifteen years.

Photo: CTK
With heavy snow forecast in the next few days, foresters know they are running out of time. Some fifty percent of the country's forests are owned by the state. Tomas Vysohlid is the spokesperson for the Czech forestry authority, which manages these forests and fells between seven and eight million cubic metres of wood a year. Besides the forecast snow, Mr Vysohlid says there are two more problems that foresters are facing:

"There are many people in the forests who want to see how big the damage is. We are trying to tell them that it is very risky for them to be there because many trees are broken and unstable and people can get hurt or killed. We also have to be really quick with removing the damage because of the bark beetle. It wakes up after the third day of Spring, when temperatures reach 12 degrees Celsius and starts to eat the wood."

Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic, photo: CTK
Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic will discuss the devastation with the cabinet during Wednesday's government session. He says a state of emergency needs to be declared in four regions as well as two town districts. Raising the annual quota for forest harvesting is also imperative as too many trees have fallen down and need to be cleared. But while logging companies may be welcoming the extra work this season, those processing Czech wood won't make a lot of money from the proceeds, says Tomas Vysohlid:

"The wind caused two kinds of damages. The first was that some trees broke one-third of the way down. As a result, the wood has to be sold at a lower price because it is no longer good quality wood, which is usually used to make furniture and so on. The second type was when the wind pulled trees out of the ground. In this case the wood was not damaged but the number of these trees is much lower than those that broke."