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IEFC - Lettre - Article n° 69

Lettre IEFC

Article 68 - Article 69 - Article 70

Posted byS. Pelletier [2009-02-19 00:00:00]

Klaus storm in Aquitaine: figures and first measures

The storm Klaus which swept the south west of Europe between 23th and 24th January caused many damages and losses primarily in France and Spain. In the forests of Galicia the winds mainly affected radiata pine plantations in the north and along the coast. Elsewhere, the storm seems to cause only scattered damages in the forest, and mostly by heavy rainfall (article El Correo Gallego).

In France the storm hit the Aquitaine region on the night of 23th January, causing considerable damages to the forest of Landes de Gascogne, where the regional forestry-wood chain already strongly suffered from the global economic crisis. During the weeks after the event, operational management was carried out and priority was given to the implementation of an emergency plan for the maritime pine chain. It is now time for the final assessment, reconstruction plan and research of sustainable solutions to avoid similar situations in the future.

First figures and measures

In Aquitaine the heaviest damaged forest areas are concentrated in the south of Gironde and in the Landes department. The estimates from aerial survey and on-site inventories give around 42,3 millions cubic meters damaged, in which 88% is maritime pine. Half of the damaged trees are large or very large timber (diameter above 37,5 cm).http://www.efi.int/files/attachments/human_resources/francophonelas_specialist_09_new.pdf.
Around 590 000 hectares were damaged in the forest area of Landes de Gascogne (monoculture of maritime pines) and 147 000 ha in the regions of Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc Roussillon. The damages on poplar forests in Lot-et-Garonne department were estimated to between 500 and 800 000 m3.
The regional organism of forest fire prevention (ARDFCI) recorded 20 000 km of obstructed roads, ie. half of the forest road net. Among the affected sectors, agriculture was also heavily reached by Klaus with estimated damages of 100 millions euros, especially in poultry farming and fruit and vegetable production according to the Regional Chamber of Agriculture.

In the forest, the clearance of roads is a priority to provide access to the land and reduce the risk of fire. An emergency plan for worker training was set up to avoid after-storm accidents, deplored in 1999.
According to the forest inter professional organization the 2 main priorities are timber mobilization and conservation. Forest owners financial loss should be compensated by an indemnification based on the wood value. It is also important to support exploitation of fallen wood and preparation for the future (wood storage, support to wood industries for adaptation to windthrown exploitation, and forest reconstruction). The objective of Aquitaine professionals is a storage of 10 million m3, with an estimated cost of 20 euros/m3 (investment-operating).
Source: Meeting Storm 09/02/2009, Prefecture

Support to reconstruction

Michel Barnier, the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, presented support measures for the rural territories affected by the storm. A « withdrawns plan 2009» has been established with a total budget over 1 billion euros to face the forest owners' economical difficulties and restore the forest potential.
In this plan, 500 millions euros of public guaranties should allow to raise subsidized loans for wood extraction and storage. 60 millions euros will be allocated in 2009 to the building of storage platforms and long-distance wood transport. 300 millions euros will be spent between 2009 and 2017 for forest reconstitution. The State will also entirely take charge of part time unemployment in the nine affected regions.
This plan developed in consultation with the forest-wood professionals will be presented to the European commission.(Source: rectificatif communiqué du Ministre de l’agriculture et de la pêche). The Prime Minister also announced a series of exceptional fiscal measures for forest owners and wood chain, still under discussion.

In addition, a decree of the prefecture of Aquitaine presents an extraordinary support plan to forest road and tracks clearance, reopening of ditches networks and reconstruction of fire prevention infrastructures (Decree). The Aquitaine Regional Council also supports mobilization and training of professional teams for forest roads clearance. (Press release).
All the official information related to the storm is centralized on DRAF Aquitaine website.

Search for sustainable solutions

Marion Guillou, Director General of INRA, in visit to Bordeaux-Aquitaine on 13 February, announced that the Institute will be in charge of organization of meetings between forest-wood research and professionals around the theme « Silviculture and storms ». This will be done in Aquitaine in collaboration with the regional partners, in the form of "Agronomical innovation crossroads» (www.inra.fr/ciag). The aim is to establish a set of research and development projects and recommendations on silvicultural practices to mitigate the impact of storms on cultivated forests.

The force of this storm and its consequences for the Atlantic forest strongly justifies the launching this month, of EFI Atlantic office and the INTERREG project «REINFFORCE» (2009-2013) on the adaptation of the Atlantic forests to climate risks.