Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

The aforestation in North Macedonia has been in decline during the past decade. In 2020, new trees were planted on 569 hectares only, which is the second-lowest level in the past decade, after 20,17 when 553 hectares of land were forested, show the data by the State Statistical Office.

What’s most worrisome is the fact that the country is gradually losing the rich forest potential, since, on one hand, the aforestation has been in decline and on the other hand, the destruction of the forests by fires only is several times more in hectares compared to the aforested areas.

In the past decade, most trees – on the area of 2 969 hectares – were planted in 2010. Since then, the numbers of the forested areas have been declining. On the other hand in 2012, 19 312 hectares of vegetation were destroyed by wildfires only. This means that the destroyed forests during that year are by several thousands of hectares more compared to the total areas of aforested areas in the past decade, which is only 14 294 hectares.

Last year, forest fires have destroyed the smallest area in the whole last decade. The wildfires in 2020 destroyed 438 hectares, which is much less compared to the previous years, shows the data provided by the State Statistical Office.

During the past decade, the statistical data shows that the worst year for the forests was 2012 when the fires have engulfed 19 312 hectares. Enormous damages to the forest fund have occurred in 2019, when the fires have caused the destruction of areas of 10 661 hectares.

The wildfires in North Macedonia are very often result of arson, but also from people visits in the forest areas during warm and dry weather, especially from making barbecue or from burning stubble, which can very often result in a big wildfire which will endanger not only the vegetation, but very often cause a lot of material damages.

Otherwise, the forestry sector is one of the most affected sectors by the climate change. The rise of the average temperatures is damaging the development of the trees, while the dry periods are one of the main causes of forest wildfires that are especially active during the summer period.

Apart from wildfires, the forest areas in North Macedonia are being destroyed by insects, natural disasters and Illegal logging for firewood. These indicators cannot be measured in hectares because the statistical data is measuring the destroyed trees in cubic meters. Still, the total data is showing the obvious negligence for the forest fund of North Macedonia.