One in five German trees "badly damaged"

Environmental groups accuse government of inefficient monitoring, not enough prevention

One in five German trees is badly damaged, according to statistics released earlier this week by the federal states. Environmental groups have claimed that the real figure is about 20% higher. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Friends of the Earth Germany (Bund), accused both the states and the federal government of monitoring forest health inefficiently and taking too few actions to safeguard forests. This is the latest in a continuing row between the authorities and environmental groups over forest health (ENDS Daily 15 December 1997). The latest figures indicate that 62% of all trees are suffering some degree of damage, a three percentage point rise compared with the 1997 figures. The worst damage is apparent in oak and beech, of which around 80% are damaged. According to Bund, monitoring techniques used by the states amount to "an official trick" to reduce official damage estimates. The states monitor all trees, but only those over 80 years old are reliable indicators of ill-health, a Bund spokesperson told ENDS Daily. Moreover, any newly-dead trees are not included, he added. The government will release its analysis of the 1998 statistics in January next year. Meanwhile in Switzerland, no change in the level of forest-damage has been recorded over the past year, the environment agency announced yesterday. The agency estimates that 19% of trees surveyed in 1998 showed signs of leaf loss, about the same rate as in 1997.

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