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The Schneeberg-Rax forest is located on the slopes of the northeastern edge of the Alps and is the source of a lot of Vienna's fresh drinking water

After the wildfire: Vienna starts reforestation of the Schneeberg-Rax

After the wildfire: Vienna starts reforestation of the Schneeberg-Rax

The fire destroyed around 20% of the forest and according to the city’s Climate Councillor, Jürgen Czernohorszky, it will take 20 years for it to grow back

After the devastating wildfires in the Schneeberg-Rax forest in Austria during October, the Vienna authorities have started a massive reforestation campaign. The campaign started on 7 December and is led by Vienna as the forest is technically the property of the city, despite being a good 80 kilometres away.

The city owns a lot of forests in the countryside, in the federal state of Lower Austria and in Styria because they are essential to the water supply. According to Jürgen Czernohorszky, City Councillor for Climate Change, this time the fires did not damage the water supply, however, they got really close.

Years of growth have been undone

According to analyses after the fire, roughly 20% of the forest is dead or dying due to the fire. The good news is that most of the mighty black pines that are around 250 years old were only slightly singed by the flames. Most of the damage was suffered by 50 to 60-year-old trees or the young ‘future’ generation.

Now, reforestation efforts are starting with clearing the dead trees and cutting down the damaged ones, as to leave stumps that are big enough to prevent erosion. The stumps, with their extensive root systems, will serve as a way to hold soil in place and help collect ash, which is a great fertiliser.

Furthermore, the first wave of reforestation will be done with birch seeds, which can be scattered directly onto the snow. During the spring, when it starts to melt, they will be transplanted into the soil and serve as the first saplings that will replenish the forest to consolidate the ground.

Councillor Czernohorszky was quoted by the ORF, the Austrian National Broadcasting Network, underlining the importance between cities and forests – a beneficial co-dependency that cannot be overlooked or neglected. Furthermore, he stressed that the healing process of the forest will take 20 years. That puts it in a predicament every summer, considering the uptick in wildfires in the last couple of years.

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