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The Bark Beetle, the Acorn and the Beechnut

Following the latest drought events and bark beetle attacks, the University of Namur in Belgium and Pro Silva Belgium is calling out to all nature lovers. Two facts are indisputable in Belgian forests this autumn 2018:

  • Following the memorable drought of the past five months, insects (bark beetles) have multiplied and have easily killed hundreds of thousands of weakened Spruces. By Belgian law, these bark spruce trees must be harvested before the 31st of March 2019. Under these stands, the soils are "clean", free of fern and bramble.
  • 2018 is an exceptional fruit year: like the trees in our orchards, the trees in our forests have produced an extraordinary quantity of forest fruits, especially acorns and beechnuts, enough to produce 100,000 natural seedlings per hectare (or ten per m2)! These acorns or beechnuts can be used as they are until spring 2019; at that time, they will germinate massively (too much) where they have fallen and will no longer be moved effectively.

In some forest areas, the spruce stands are isolated in the broadleaf forest and the mass of acorns and/or beechnuts are a few dozen metres from the spruces that are attacked. As our forest ancestors would have done, one solution is to sow in autumn (preferably) or spring, acorns and/or beechnuts that have not germinated yet in the stands to be reforested. This work is simple since all you need to do is open a slit 3 to 6 cm deep with a spade and to slide 3 acorns or 3 beechnuts into it. Work accessible to children (a child’s bucket and shovel are enough) and to everyone motivated by this noble action!

It is therefore necessary to convince your family, youth movements, schools or associations close to you, to make this symbolic, free and so concrete gesture for the Belgian forest.

This opportunity is only possibly for the next 6 months since after such an abundant mast year, it is certain that oaks and beeches will not produce any or very few fruit in the next 3 to 4 years.

“Imitate nature, hasten its work” (Lorentz and Parade - 1860), a motto dear to the “Pro Silva” European forestry associations that the general public will be able to adopt over the next six months!

Several actions have taken place in the forest area belonging to the University of Namur in Belgium in November 2018.

For further information, please contact:

  • Charles Debois,
  • Forest Engineer Manager of the Haugimont estate (University of Namur) and President of Pro Silva Belgium
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