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Crisis meeting to discuss forest damage

The Swiss environment minister, Moritz Leuenberger, inspects the destruction caused by Hurricane "Lothar". A crisis meeting is to be held in Berne on Tuesday to deal with the almost 9.5 million cubic metres of forest felled last week.

This content was published on January 3, 2000 - 16:40

The Swiss Federal Forestry Office has invited cantonal officials, environment specialists and representatives from the forestry industry to a crisis meeting in Berne on Tuesday.

The talks will focus on co-ordinating efforts to deal with the almost 9.5 million cubic metres of forest felled last week by Hurricane "Lothar".

"Tuesday's meeting is intended to share out different tasks to the various working groups within the industry," said Thomas Grünenfelder, from the Forestry Office. The co-ordination efforts are aimed at avoiding any duplication of cleaning-up operations.

Roads were cleared of fallen trees in the days following the storm, and Tuesday's meeting will discuss which trees are to be removed and which will be left in the forests.

"We are very well prepared," said Werner Schaerer, head of the Forestry Office and leader of a task force set up immediately after the storm. He added that lessons had been learned from Hurricane "Vivian" which hit Switzerland ten years ago.

Schaerer said that damaged trees removed for timber aren't worth as much as trees felled specifically for that purpose. He indicated that this could have a negative effect on market prices, but federal subsidies could prop them up.

"It's obvious that the annual budget of 15 million francs earmarked to deal with damage will not be enough," added Schaerer.

A clearer picture of the extent of the damage and clean-up operations is to be presented to the media in two weeks time.

From staff and wire reports

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