350 million euros as funding for forest owners

Funding can be requested from February.

Wien. The forest fund announced by the federal government in summer 2020 is in place, and applications for 350 million euros can be made from next Monday. Bark beetle plague, storms and a lot of snow have led to high amounts of damaged wood that are now waiting for customers. The oversupply and lower demand due to the corona crisis have caused wood prices to plummet. The forest fund as a “rescue and future package” is now supposed to provide financial support to forest owners, among other things.

“This is an investment for the next generations,” said Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) on Friday at an online press conference. “Intact forests are the best natural air conditioning there is.”

From the beginning of February you can take six funding measures www.waldfonds.at 200 million euros have been reserved for this. The maximum funding amount is 200,000 euros. The EU Commission has examined the forest fund under state aid law and has now given the green light.

Record for damaged wood

Almost half of Austria is covered with forest. Climate-related damage, storms, snow pressure and bark beetles have severely damaged the forests in recent years. Almost two thirds of the Austrian timber harvest in 2019 was damaged wood. The bark beetle damaged 4.3 million cubic meters – more than a third of the wood harvest.

The Agriculture Minister appealed to the industry to buy more domestic damaged wood and not to buy cheaper abroad. An obligation to purchase damaged wood for the wood industry is “a possibility” that one has in mind, but at the moment there is “no need”, says Köstinger. Last year, the industry sharply criticized a possible purchase obligation.

The environmental protection organization Greenpeace welcomed the forest fund’s species protection measures. A large part of this funding must now be invested in endangered animal and plant species in Austria. (APA)

(“Die Presse”, print edition, January 30th, 2021)

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