Saxony: Saxony registers 179 forest fires until autumn

The equation is simple: more drought, more wildfires.

Saxony: Saxony registers 179 forest fires until autumn

The equation is simple: more drought, more wildfires. As in the dry years of 2018 to 2020, there were more fires in Saxony than usual this year. More than 1000 hectares of forest fell victim to the flames.

Dresden (dpa / sn) - Saxony registered an above-average number of forest fires in 2022. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, there were 179 fires by October. The events were dominated by two major fires - the forest fire in Gohrischheide at the end of July on an area of ​​553 hectares and in August in the Saxon Switzerland National Park on around 113 hectares. Overall, the fires affected an area of ​​more than 1,000 hectares, it said.

According to State Forest President Utz Hempfling, climate change with persistent drought increases the risk of forest fires. On the forest fire areas, however, there is generally a relatively high ability to regenerate. In some cases, the first green could be seen again a week after the extinguishing on the affected areas. This was also spurred on by the entry of extinguishing water into the ground: "Nature takes back the burned area."

According to statistics, 3,282 forest fires were registered in Saxony from 1990 to 2021, which is an average of a good 100 a year. 91 percent of these fires fell between March and October. It burned most frequently in July and August, least often in January. Most fires (84 percent) started between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. during the day. Sunday was the day of the week with the most forest fires. Only four percent of the fires were attributed to natural causes such as lightning, and people were responsible for at least two thirds. No cause could be determined for the remainder.

Forest Minister Wolfgram Günther (Greens) contradicted arguments that dead wood generally increases the risk of forest fires. "You can't relate that one-to-one. It's more complex. We need deadwood for many reasons in the forest. It is an important habitat in the various phases of decay. Many species are tied to it. If there is no deadwood, then there are no such species either," emphasized the minister. With regard to the forest fires, it is even more important that dead wood increases the vitality of the entire ecosystem.

"The decay of the wood means that new humus can form at the end. Dead wood is an important water reservoir. The dead wood acts like a sponge and is therefore important for soil moisture," he explained. With the fires in summer, however, you also noticed where problems could arise and are investigating that. “Of course, the fire brigade can get to the source of the fire more quickly in a “tidy forest”. However, we cannot clear the entire forest because of the different functions of the dead wood , in order to banish the danger of a fire selectively."

In Hempfling's opinion, the topic of dead wood must be viewed in a differentiated manner. When a dead tree is in contact with the ground, it decomposes relatively quickly. If one tree is dry on top of another, it happens much more slowly. In the summer you could see that dead trees were usually charred on the outside but were still white on the inside. "What burns are mainly fine twigs and ground litter."

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