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Storms of December 1999 fell 165 million m3 of timber: Equivalent of 6 months harvest in three days

Published: 18 January 2000

Geneva

In December there were three storms over Europe: on 26 and 28 December, centred on France, Germany and Switzerland; and an earlier storm on 11 December, centred on Denmark and Sweden. Countries across Europe sustained damage to their forests which in terms of volume of wood blown down is the highest in Europe since the catastrophic storms of 1990, and may even be worse than those in value.

Situation in European countries based on country estimates
as of 17 January 2000

Country

Windthrown
timber
(million m3)

Annual
removals1
(million m3)

Percent of annual harvest

France

115

43

268

Germany

27

39

69

Switzerland

10

4

238

Sweden

5

58

9

Denmark

3.5

2

159

Poland

2

23

9

Austria

0.4

4

10

Lithuania

0.4

5

8

Belgium

minor

4

Estonia

minor

6

Latvia

minor

10

Italy

unconfirmed

10

Portugal

none

9

Spain

none

16

United Kingdom

none

1

Total (estimated)

165

381

43

__________

 

Please note that "removals" are roundwood actually removed from forests in 1998 as reported by countries to the ECE. Not all harvested timber is removed from forests and even less windthrown wood will be removed.

France is the most affected country, with an estimated total of 115 million m3 with the worst damage in the east (50 million m3 in total, including Lorraine 26 million m3, Champagne Ardennes 11 million m3, Alsace 6 million m3). Other regions were also badly hit (e.g. Limousin 15 million m3, Aquitaine 20 million m3). Of the total, 40 million m3 is in public forests and 75 million m3 in private forests.

In Germany, where the estimate has risen to 27 million m3, the Black Forest in Baden-Wurttemberg is the worst affected. In addition significant volumes fell in Bavaria and smaller volumes elsewhere.

In Switzerland damage is estimated at 10 million m3, about twice the annual harvest. The cantons of Bern and Fribourg are the worst hit.

The preliminary estimate of the total volume of windblow is 165 million m3, or 43% of the normal European harvest and 20% of the annual growth. Mr. Kit Prins, Chief of the UN/ECE Timber Section stated, "While the loss appears devastating in the short term, Europe’s surplus of growth over harvest will continue. The fallen timber is only 0.6% of wood in Europe’s forests. However for localities affected it can have significant consequences." (Statistics based on Timber Section studies on forest resources and timber trends.)

To minimise disruption to forest products markets governments are preparing programmes to help forest owners and markets recover as quickly as possible. All foresters and governments stress determination to re-establish their forests as they are committed to sustainable management of European forests.

More information on the storm damage to forests in Europe, including links to national sites may be found at: www.unece.org/trade/timber

For further information please contact:

Mr. Kit Prins

Chief, Timber Section
Palais des Nations, room 456
United Nations Economic Commission
for Europe (UN/ECE)
CH - 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Telephone: +(41 22) 917 2874
Fax: +(41 22) 917 0041
E-mail: Christopher.Prins@unece.org
Website: http://www.unece.org/trade/timber


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05