US News A "silent storm" ravages the forests of Ile-de-France

12:40  07 october  2020
12:40  07 october  2020 Source:   lejdd.fr

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Les massifs forestiers de la région parisienne sont fortement affectés par le dérèglement climatique. Les experts s'inquiètent. © ONF-Seine-Nord

The forests of the Paris region are strongly affected by climate change. Experts are worried.

A "silent storm" hits the forests of Greater Paris. This is how certain foresters describe the situation which, for the past four years, has affected the Ile-de-France mountains. If these large green spaces receive 100 million visits per year, how many of these walkers, joggers and cyclists realize the degradation of the health of the trees, the main hosts of these woods? And yet, all around the capital and in Paris, thousands of trees are dying, victims of climate change. A decline that is not visible because it begins at the top, with the head, the crown.

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Forests occupy only a quarter of the region's territory (compared to more than 30% on average throughout France), but they play a crucial role as biodiversity reserves. They are very efficient carbon sinks, trap CO2, provide wood for construction, furnishings, heating and are popular with walkers. During heatwaves, they "produce a valuable air conditioning effect near urban areas", as Irène Nenner, president of the Environment 92 association reminds us.

In Chantilly or Fontainebleau, a catastrophic situation

In Chantilly, in the Oise, in 50 kilometers from Paris, the time has come for action. The estate, which belongs to the Institut de France, has just set up a committee with experts, but also hunters, local residents and environmental protection associations called Together, let's save the Chantilly forest. The first tracks considered will be made public on October 10 *. "When we took stock of our 2005-2020 development plan, we realized that the situation was catastrophic", testifies General Millet, administrator of the domain.

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In Chantilly, 50,000 oaks - one in five oaks and one in ten trees in the massif - are in the process of advanced decline. But this 6,300 hectare forest is not the only victim of climate change. The droughts of the last three years, combined with the summer heat waves, weaken the trees, which wither away by sacrificing part of their foliage: this was the case this summer with the Parisian plane trees or with the beeches of Compiègne being amputated. half of their leaves to survive.


Episodes of drought also increase the risk of fire.


Lack of water kills some specimens slowly, and sometimes in a dazzling manner. In Fontainebleau, 100 hectares of Scots pines dried up and had to be felled at the beginning of 2020. "A sudden death, never seen in Fontainebleau in memory of a forester," said Éric Goulouzelle, Seine-Nord territorial director of the 'National Forestry Office (ONF). The wooded massifs of Montmorency, Saint-Germain-en-Laye or Compiègne are very sick: only 4% of the deciduous trees of Saint-Germain-en-Laye are healthy.

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"Drought episodes also increase the risk of fire, adds Éric Goulouzelle. We were very worried about Fontainebleau, where 25 fires started, but luckily the rain came at the end of September ..."

Objective: "to have a living forest in 50 years "

Trees, stressed by the lack of water, are less resistant to pests. The ink of the chestnut tree, a microorganism similar to the fungus, which infects the roots, has decimated 500 hectares of this species in the Montmorency forest (over 2,000 hectares). The larvae of the forest chafer, they are destroying the forests of Compiègne where 400,000 trees are threatened in the long term by these voracious insects, whose number has been estimated at 70 per square meter. In Chantilly, their presence is proven on 70% of the estate. To date, there is no biodegradable product to eradicate these insects.

Read also - Ink disease, a threat to the future of chestnut trees in France

In Chantilly, new species, better adapted to global warming, such as holm or pubescent oaks, maritime pines, maple trees Montpellier, the cedars, will be established experimentally on small surfaces. In Paris, a study launched in 2018 (and which will end in 2021) follows nine species of trees in different sectors of the capital in order to identify the most resistant. New species such as hackberry could thus be introduced.

The ONF, which manages 91,000 hectares of woodland in Île-de-France, plans to plant exogenous trees and carry out "assisted migration". Tests as part of the Giono project (named after the Provençal writer, great lover of trees) are taking place in the Verdun forest. Normally, forests migrate naturally, about 300 meters per year. But climate change is too rapid for species from the South to have time to move north. "We must intervene and help the forests to adapt, estimates Éric Goulouzelle, of the ONF. For this we will undoubtedly have to multiply the species in places, sometimes choose to do nothing, like where we cut pines to Fontainebleau. We are talking about a mosaic forest, where several solutions will be applied. "

The horizon of the experiments launched at Chantilly is five, ten years away. "The objective, summarizes General Millet, is to still have a forest - perhaps different but alive - in fifty years."

* In Gouvieux, October 10 at 2 p.m. chantilly-tourisme.com/temps-forts

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