Scientists have recently reported that both the native silver fir and the Douglas fir could serve as suitable tree replacements for the Norway spruce in the long run because of their greater resistance to droughts.
Their study is published in the Global Change Biology journal, where they indicate that extreme droughts are expected to increase in frequency as well as in intensity in Europe, and other parts of the world. These droughts serve as obstacles in the development of forests, as many plant species cannot handle this type of setting or climate.
One of these unfortunate plants is the Norway spruce, known to be the most important commercial tree species in Germany! In fact, the Norway spruce actually accounts for the majority of trees in the Black Forest.
Valentia Vitali and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Bauhus from the Chair of Silviculture at the University of Freiburg led the study pertaining to how forests in the central part of Europe could adjust to climate change.
They studied other kinds of conifers to look for alternatives, as well as the past growth of 800 trees situated at different altitudes in the Black Forest. They also analyzed annual tree rings before, during, and after the extreme summer droughts of 1976 and 2003.
This was in order for them to know which conifers can tolerate and endure droughts, and which of them recover even more quickly.
They came to the conclusion that the silver and Douglas firs are the plants that have a greater resistance to droughts than spruces. Also, the Douglas fir serves as a more productive replacement species for the Norway spruce, while silver firs were found to have a greater positive effect on biodiversity.