Almost a third of Germany is covered in forest – compared to just over a 10th of the UK and a fifth of China. That’s an estimated 90 billion trees.

But storms, drought, fires and infestations of bark beetles – which can be fatal to trees weakened by exceptionally hot and dry weather – are devastating the nation’s woodlands.

German forestry in action

The country is fighting back. In August, the army was deployed to speed up the process of felling affected trees, so the wood could still be used for timber. But that caused a drop in prices, threatening the industry.


Silviculture – the practice of sustainable forestry – is a vital part of the German economy, accounting for around 1.3 million jobs and an annual turnover of around $184 billion.

“More than 100 million solid cubic metres of damaged wood are causing a drastic fall in prices on the timber market – which is why many forestry companies are facing the end,” says Albert Stegemann, the chairman of the working group on nutrition and agriculture of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group.

At a National Forest Summit in Berlin, Environment Minister Julia Klöckner announced measures including at least $540 million to replant Germany’s woodlands, saying: "The trees that are missing cannot contribute to reducing CO2 emissions."

According to Stegemann, the forests bind 127 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

German forestry rate from 1990 to 2016
Image: Statista

Protection package

In 2018, an area of forest the size of 3,300 football pitches was lost due to fires alone. In total, around 105 million cubic meters of damaged wood are expected for the years 2018 and 2019.

Last year, Klöckner launched measures to cope with the issue, including the clearing of affected areas and storage of damaged wood; monitoring, prevention and control of harmful organisms; prevention and control of forest fires and reforestation - an important decision towards German forestry.

In the long-term, the plan is to adapt the forest ecosystem to meet the challenges of climate change, which will include:

- Planting drought-tolerant tree species

- Improving the water storage ability of forest soils

- Creating a mix of tree species with different needs and characteristics (such as trees with deeper and shallower root systems)

The country is also encouraging all of its citizens and the younger generations to get involved in replanting. October 3 is designated as the day of ‘United Digging’ (#Einheitsbuddeln), with the hope that if every German planted a tree, 83 million would be planted a year.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about deforestation?

Halting deforestation is essential to avoiding the worst effects of global climate change.

The destruction of forests creates almost as much greenhouse gas emissions as global road travel, and yet it continues at an alarming rate.

In 2012, we brought together more than 150 partners working in Latin America, West Africa, Central Africa and South-East Asia – to establish the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020: a global public-private partnership to facilitate investment in systemic change.

The Alliance, made up of businesses, governments, civil society, indigenous people, communities and international organizations, helps producers, traders and buyers of commodities often blamed for causing deforestation to achieve deforestation-free supply chains.

The Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020, summarizes the areas in which the most urgent action is needed to eliminate deforestation from global agricultural supply chains.

The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is gaining ground on tackling deforestation linked to the production of four commodities: palm oil, beef, soy, and pulp and paper.

Get in touch to join our mission to halt to deforestation.

Germany is not alone in its efforts to plant trees – many governments and organizations are recognizing the vital importance of trees to act as carbon sinks.

This year, Ethiopia claimed it had set a world record for planting 350 million trees in a day, while 13.6 billion trees have been planted so far in Plant for the Planet’s Trillion Tree Campaign.

The army is helping in German forestry by clearing effected patches of the forests.