Protective forests in the Lax, Fiesch and Fieschertal regions are suffering under the combined effect of climate change and bark beetles. Dead trees are now left behind.
The protective forests of the Aletsch region of Valais are under threat. They suffer from climate change, struggle to rejuvenate and are infested by bark beetles. However, the township wants to be reassuring, indicating Friday that the situation is under surveillance.
The forests overlooking the Upper Valais villages of Lax, Fiesch and Fieschertal protect them from avalanches, rockfall, landslides and even erosion. But their protective function is severely tested, like the Griewald forest, above Fiesch, which is currently prey to bark beetles.
“The infestation has reached such a level there that the fight by felling and removing trees is no longer justified. Dead trees standing or lying in the forest have a better protective effect than coming out of the forest, ”notes the State of Valais in a press release.
10 to 20 years of respite
The action of this beetle, favored by aridity, is “under continuous surveillance”, assures the canton. In addition to more frequent droughts, climate change is also causing severe storms that weaken trees. In addition, “the damage caused by ‘the browsing of fauna has locally prevented sufficient rejuvenation of the forests”.
“Experts believe that the protection function of the Griewald forest will be able to be maintained for another 10 to 20 years,” notes the State of Valais. It must be rejuvenated with “the widest possible range of tree species adapted to the climate”.
“Under continuous surveillance”
The authorities are confident. They are convinced that “the intensive efforts” of recent years in forest management and wildlife regulation will bear fruit, despite the current bark beetle infestation. In the Aletsch forest yard, 75 hectares of protection forests are managed each year.
The situation is “under continuous surveillance”. And if the forest could no longer fulfill its function of protection for the population and the infrastructures, the municipalities, with the financial support of the Confederation and the canton, would have the time to plan and build adequate protection works, assures the canton. .
To improve forest protection, the township is also putting pressure on deer, in particular with greater hunting of females. Other methods are being considered and still need to be discussed, such as introducing a longer break between hunting periods and thus making the latter more effective.