Will gale-force winds change the face of Czech forests?
Rolling hills and coniferous forests are what you would call typical Czech landscape, but with the climatic changes affecting central Europe that may be about to change. In the wake of devastating gale-force winds, environmental experts are advising forest owners to think about mixed forests instead.
"Basically there are three factors you need to watch: biodiversity, the richness of the species, the stability of the ecosystem and the third one is production of resources. All these factors are much better fulfilled in mixed forests."
After gale force winds devastated large areas of the Tatra Mountains in neighbouring Slovakia in 2004, Bratislava introduced strict new norms which say that only up to 40 percent of trees in their forests can be conifers. Czech Environment Minister Martin Bursik of the Green Party is advocating a similar government policy in the Czech Republic. He says state owned forests should set an example - gradually replanting more deciduous trees in order to improve the balance in nature.
"Private owners of forests are not adequately controlled. They should be under greater scrutiny because even now there are norms saying how many deciduous trees there should be in a forest -norms stating the exact percentage. And in reality those norms are not always adhered to."
Even if the government were to take action now - restoring the natural balance of forests is a long term process. Environmentalists say it will take three of four generations to be completed.