Forest and climate change

Freiburg’s municipal forest is having to face the changes to our climate. Climate-change projections predict an increase in the average temperature for our region, and young trees germinating or planted today will experience a likely temperature increase of between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius at their locations within the next 80 years and beyond. This rise in temperature will be accompanied by a severe decrease in water available for their growth. Extreme weather events, such as prolonged drought, heavy rains, and storms, and subsequently damage from insects or high seed production by trees as a result, will continue to increase. In order to safeguard the municipal forest in the long term, it is being prepared for the predicted long-term climate changes (adaptation) and managed in such a way that it remains as stable as possible and capable of regeneration when faced with the harmful events that researchers expect will occur more frequently.

Forests are not only victims of climate change, however; with the right care and management, they also have a significant role to play in protecting the climate, which is why the Freiburg City Council decided when revising the 2020 Forest Convention to include climate protection as a fourth and equally important forest function in the forest-management objectives. By taking this step, the City Council has taken into account the importance of climate protection for the future and the Earth’s development, on the one hand, and the possibilities for controlling the climate-protection effect of the municipal forest through management, on the other.

The importance of the municipal forest to efforts to protect the climate is due to several factors: the total amount of reduced CO2 levels through carbon storage in the forest and in durable wood products, as well as the avoidance of emissions through the use of wood for energy and materials. Each year, nearly 55,000 metric tons of CO2—some three percent of the city’s CO2 emissions—are captured or avoided in this way.