Prague, Sept 7 (CTK) – Forests have been drying up and dying to an excessive extent in the Czech Republic as a result of repeated droughts, a phenomenon that might have disastrous impacts in some areas if it continued in the years to come, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Wednesday.

In some places, the trees, mainly spruces, have been dying so extensively that the forest managers are forced to fell up to four times more trees than usual, the daily writes.

The situation is the worst in Central Moravia northeast of Olomouc, and to a lesser extent also in southern and western Bohemia, the daily writes.

Spruce forests in lower altitudes are most endangered of all. They have been ailing as a result of recent long draughts combined with torrential rains which the dry soil is unable to absorb.

Ailing trees are attacked by the bark-beetle and parasitic fungi and have to be felled.

“About 2,200,000 cubic metres of wood were logged in 2015 almost definitely due to the influence of the climate of the recent years. This corresponds to a forest area of about 80 square kilometres,” the daily quotes Petr Jelinek, an expert in forests, as saying.

Almost five million dead or dying trees had to be felled primarily as a result of droughts last year, Jelinek said.

Although the climate has been more favourable this year, experts still expect the volume of the forced-out logging to double at least, due to the extremely hot and dry summer of 2015, the daily writes.

“From 2000 to 2006, the annual volume of wood logged due to bark-beetle stood between 240,000 and 1.3 million cubic metres. Since 2009, it has been increasing up to 2.6 million cubic metres,” Jelinek said.

The logging of calamity wood is extraordinarily cost-intensive but the prices for which the poor quality wood is sold are low.

In addition, forest managers have to plant an unusually high number of young trees in the most afflicted areas.

The Lesy CR state company plants about 50 million of them a year, and private owners another 23 million, MfD writes.

The costs of the reforesting of the areas concerned are estimated at more than 200 million crowns.

In north Moravia, the situation of private owners is hopeless and can no longer be solved without the aid of the state, Jelinek said.

Experts recommend to do away with the hegemony of spruces, which make up 75 percent of trees in Czech forests, as a result of the preference of the spruce by forest managers at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

They say the optimal proportion of coniferous and deciduous trees is 60-40 and that the share of firs among the coniferous should be raised.