11. 10. 12. - 17:26
Millions of trees planted after severe storms
By Rachael Williams
Ten years after a severe storm nicknamed "Uschi" devastated areas of Pinzgau in western Austria, the Austrian Forestry Commission has planted around 35 million trees.
In November 2002 "Uschi" swept through the west of the country at speeds of over 200 km/h.
In Pinzgau, countless trees were reduced to matches and the overwhelming force of the storm was felt as far away as Salzburg and Upper Austria.
The Commission stated: "Although the storm lasted a few hours, we are still dealing with the aftermath".
In Salzburg alone 3,500 hectares of protected forestland was destroyed by the storms – the equivalent area of 5,000 football fields.
The area was wreaked by further storms in the years following "Uschi".
"Kyrill" in January 2007 and "Emma" and "Paula" in 2008 caused further damage to forests in areas where the cost of devastation had previously been estimated at 30 million euros.
Georg Erlacher, a representative of the Austrian Forestry Commission, stated that in addition to the environmental damage, the timber industry also recorded significant losses and so the Commission has invested millions in a reforestation project.
Between 2003 and 2011, a 300km forest road was created in Salzburg to aid the removal of wood from the area – a project that was funded completely from the Commission’s budget.
Erlacher also stated that more money needs to be invested in controlling the bark beetle population which thrives upon decomposing wood.
Following the devastation, the Commission has spent 8.6 million euros planting 8.2 million trees in the Salzburg province – mainly in the areas of Pinzgau, Pongau and Lungau.
The majority of trees are spruces which are native to this mountainous area and one quarter are deep-rooted species of conifer. Large areas of hardwood trees have also been added to the equation, as Erlacher commented: "A healthy mixture always offers more stability than a monoculture".