California lost more than 36 million trees last year due to the cumulative impacts of extended drought, overstocked forest conditions, insect outbreaks, and disease, a new report by the US Forest Service revealed.
The report released on Tuesday said that an estimated 36.3 million trees across 2.6 million acres of federal, state and private were lost in the state.
It noted that total tree mortality increased significantly both in acres affected and particularly in estimated trees lost from 2021 in which an estimated 9.5 million trees perished in the state, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Since 2020, California has experienced the driest and warmest years on record causing serious drought conditions. Without enough water, trees are susceptible to bark beetle attacks and disease,” said the US Forest Service in a statement, adding that “their susceptibility rises when trees are crowded and temperatures are abnormally high”.
“Even with the recent storms from atmospheric rivers, increased tree mortality should be expected in forests until precipitation returns to normal or above normal for a few years,” the agency said.
The US Forest Service said the agency and its partners throughout the state are working together to remove dead trees and increase forest health.
“Working together, we can mitigate the risks of tree mortality and high-intensity wildfire by reducing the overabundance of living trees on the landscape,” Jennifer Eberlien, Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region, said in the statement.
California has proposed $1.2 billion as part of a $2.7 billion multi-year package to accelerate wildfire resilience and forest health.
Current and future actions include thinning dense forests in strategic areas, spraying insecticide on barks of high-value trees, removing trees hazardous to public safety, and ongoing monitoring of landscape conditions, according to the statement.