Green Germany: Rising Energy Costs Drive Up Forest Thievery

  • Date: 17/01/13
  • Spiegel Online

With energy costs escalating, more Germans are turning to wood burning stoves for heat. That, though, has also led to a rise in tree theft in the country’s forests. Woodsmen have become more watchful.

With snow blanketing the ground, it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up in front of a fireplace. That, though, makes German foresters nervous. When the mercury falls, the theft of wood in the country’s woodlands goes up as people turn to cheaper ways to heat their homes.

“The forest is open for everyone to enter and people just think they can help themselves, but they can’t!” says Enno Rosenthal, head of the forest farmers association in the northeastern German state of Brandenburg. “Naturally, those log piles belong to someone and there is a lot of money and work that goes into them.”

The problem has been compounded this winter by rising energy costs. The Germany’s Renters Association estimates the heating costs will go up 22 percent this winter alone. A side effect is an increasing number of people turning to wood-burning stoves for warmth. Germans bought 400,000 such stoves in 2011, the German magazine FOCUS reported this week. It marks the continuation of a trend: The number of Germans buying heating devices that burn wood and coal has grown steadily since 2005, according to consumer research company GfK Group.

That increase in demand has now also boosted prices for wood, leading many to fuel their fires with theft.

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