This year, the forest protection year continues in a similarly unpleasant way as it ended in 2018. The initial situation is extremely worrying and the number of bark beetles might further increase. As Austria's forests presently contain a lot of calamity wood suitable for breeding, the right measures must be taken. Population densities of the dangerous bark beetle species are extremely high in the damage areas. Inspections of the existing broods, for example in the Waldviertel, revealed vital and largely mature beetles, i.e. beetles ready for flight.
In the southern and western parts of the country, too, stands contain very large amounts of calamity wood, which resulted from the storms in autumn 2018 and the snow breakage in early 2019 - a lot of wood suitable for breeding, which will be the starting point for further mass reproduction of bark beetles unless removed in time and made unfit for breeding. Infested wood and thrown or broken material must be removed from the forest and treated immediately because with rising temperatures the beetles will fly out again at the beginning of April to infest new trees.
Bark-beetle-infested wood at a new record high
According to the Documentation of Forest Damage Factors, prepared by the district forest services in Austria-wide surveys, wood in an amount of 5.2 million cubic metres over bark (m³ o.b.) was damaged by various bark beetle species in 2018. Thus, the record value of 2017 was exceeded by almost half. By way of comparison: Every year in Austria, approximately 19.2 million of cubic metres of timber harvested are felled (Source: 2018 „Timber Felling Report“).
With 3.3 million m³ o.b. the highest damage occurred in Lower Austria. In Upper Austria, just under 1 million m³ o.b. were reported, and in Vorarlberg the amount of calamity wood doubled to 37,000 m³ o.b. Carinthia (272,000 m³ o.b.), Styria (257,000 m³ o.b.) and Salzburg (120,000 m³ o.b.) recorded a decline. In Burgenland (131,000 m³ o.b.) and Tyrol (118,000 m³ o.b.) the quantity remained more or less the same.