The bark beetle has been bothering the forests of the Czech Republic and many other countries for several years. However, the state of forests in the last two years can be called without exaggeration a calamity. The bark beetle feeds mainly on bast, especially spruce bast. However, recent research has shown that this beetle also transmits parasitic fungi to deciduous trees, such as elms and walnuts, which dry under the onslaught of these fungi. But it is still true that the bark beetle organizes the main feast on spruces. Spruce planting was justified, this tree grows quickly and appears to be ideal for processing. In the euphoria of the timber industry, however, this tree began to be planted in huge areas in almost all locations. As long as our climate corresponded to the climate of the temperate zone, there was not such a problem with the bark beetle. However, in recent years, or rather decades, the climate has begun to change rapidly and now we are witnessing rather tropical weather, which our country has never seen before. In such conditions, spruce, which is adapted to higher altitudes with enough rainfall and cold, has no chance to survive. Spruce can’t save water, its shallow roots, which do not reach the depths where they would draw a source of water, did not need this adaptation. At high altitudes, there is enough water, so why spare it.
We have known for many years that monoculture forests, like other monocultures, have difficulty to defend themselves against a specialized pest, yet planting hectares of spruce monocultures has still not been abandoned. It is clear that weakened trees, which have much to do to get enough water and nutrients, are almost defenseless when invaded by thousands of bark beetles. And when the bark beetles are finished in one tree, they move to the next ones. Moreover, their offspring spend winter in the bark of trees and it has been proven that up to 75,000 bark beetles can overwinter in the bark of single spruce.
At the moment, spruce forests in all regions of the Czech Republic are already affected. Everywhere, calamitous logging is carried out and huge clear-cuts are formed, on which the forest soil, covered for many decades by tree crowns, is exposed to the hot rays of the sun. In addition, it has been suffocated by the movement of heavy machinery. At best, deciduous trees are planted on these clear-cuttings, but in a normal deciduous forest or mixed forest they grow under ordinary giant mothers where they have only limited light. In this way, these seedlings grow slowly and develop for a long time, which guarantees their strength and therefore longevity. If their mother or another tree dies, frees up space and allows more light to get to the soil, they will start pushing up to take a chance and be faster than the competition. Such a chance can only occur once in their entire lives. But if we plant such trees on huge bare areas under direct sunlight, they will behave the same and drive up quickly, as is natural for their survival. In this case, however, we will witness weak and short-lived forests. Experts recommend planting fast-growing supporting trees, such as birch or hornbeam, in order to create an ideal environment for the seedlings of our prepared deciduous trees. But why a forest regeneration management which will only bring further difficulties in the future is still being applied? I always ask myself this question when I see how some foresters do the forest management. At the same time, forests are kind of a chronicle of our world and we pass them on to future generations. Centuries have been written in the trees, and future generations will judge us according to how we have treated the greatest wealth we have. So, let’s act responsibly and not see the trees just as consumer goods, but as carriers of a healthy planet. That’s why we should treat them like that!