Forest fires, moor fires and wildfires pose a serious threat in Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. An overview.
Northern Germany – In recent years, awareness of the imminent danger of forest fires has increased worldwide. Usually, discussions and reports are concentrated in regions such as California, Australia or the Mediterranean, where wildfires are common. However, there is also a risk of forest fires in northern Germany that should not be underestimated, even if this may come as a surprise to many. In Lower Saxony, the risk of forest fires is already high. The reason – exceptionally little rain.
Risk of forest fires in Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein – There is also a threat of wildfires
The landscape of northern Germany is characterized by a large number of forests, heathlands and moorlands. These regions are crucial for the local ecosystem and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. But they are also susceptible to wildfires, especially during periods of prolonged drought, which are becoming more common due to climate change.
This is also what happened in the south of Lower Saxony: In the Harz Mountains, there was recently a large forest fire in which people had to be evacuated from the Brocken. It is just one of many fires in the region.
Fire in Lower Saxony's forests: That's why forest fires should not be underestimated
Forest fires can have devastating effects on the environment and society. Here are some of the main reasons why wildfires are so dangerous:
- Destruction of flora and fauna: Forest fires can destroy huge areas of forest and thus threaten the home of numerous animal and plant species. This can lead to a reduction in biodiversity.
Climate change: Wildfires release large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO₂), a greenhouse gas, which contributes to global warming. In addition, forests are important carbon sinks. If they burn, this storage capacity is lost.
Threats to communities and infrastructure: Wildfires can spread quickly and threaten communities, leading to evacuations and material damage. They can also damage important infrastructure such as power grids and transport routes.
A large part of the northern German forests consists of conifers, especially pines. These trees are particularly flammable due to the high resin content of their needles and branches. In addition, the sandy soils that predominate in this region can cause moisture to evaporate quickly, making the vegetation and soil even drier and more combustible.
Forest and moor fire: Lüneburg Heath and Emsland particularly at risk
The heath and moorland areas of northern Germany, such as the Lüneburg Heath or the Emsland, are also endangered. Dry heath and drying bogs can quickly become hot spots, especially when human activities, such as carelessly discarded cigarette butts or improperly extinguished campfires, are added.
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The risk of forest fires increases again during the warm seasons (symbolic photo) © Fabian Sommer/dpa
There is also a direct link between climate change and the increase in wildfires. Scientific studies show that extreme weather events, including prolonged periods of drought, can be linked to climate change. These changes lead to drier conditions that increase the risk of wildfires.
Fighting fires in the forest and moors: Rapid response required
Several measures are needed to combat the risk of forest fires in northern Germany. These include effective monitoring and rapid response to wildfires, better management of forest resources, including more varied afforestation, and broader public education about the risks and prevention strategies of wildfires.
In addition, climate change must be tackled at the global level. It is important that we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changing conditions to minimize the frequency and intensity of wildfires.