"In the light of the corona crisis, 2019 seems like a different world, but the work of the DBU still goes on. Climate change and other environmental issues do not make a corona break! With these words DBU Secretary General Alexander Bonde opened annual press conference of the DBU, at which the foundation presented its annual report as well as the annual report of the DBU Naturerbe GmbH - due to the corona pandemic for the first time as a video conference. At the conference, Bonde advocated a paradigm shift in the way water is handled in rural areas: "The persistent drought of recent years makes it necessary to keep the water in the landscape and to give flowing waters sufficient space.
Dr. Maximilian Hempel, DBU Head of Department for Environmental Research and Nature Conservation, referred to funding projects that are presented in the DBU annual report, for example on the stabilization of the subterranean water level or the natural flowing of rivers. He also pointed out that the energy turnaround with the expansion of renewable energies has a positive impact on the water sector. Other points of the DBU annual report, in addition to water shortage and energy system transformation, were the intelligent use of plastics, sustainability education and the DBU support for green start-ups.
At the annual press conference, the DBU's Naturerbe also annotated the consequences of the of drought in the past years. According to feedback from the Federal Forestry Commission, whose employees look after the 71 DBU natural heritage sites, around 2,170 hectares (ha) of the total 55,000 hectares of forest area are affected. Coniferous wood has died or is threatening to die on about 1,720 ha, hardwood on about 450 ha. As one of Germany's largest private forest owners, the foundation's subsidiary aims to leave its forests to their own devices in the long term, if possible without human intervention. "Where coniferous wood has died due to drought, at best young mixed deciduous forests grow up from seedlings, which can cope better with dry periods than planted seedlings," explained Susanne Belting, Professional Director of the DBU Naturerbe GmbH, the DBU strategy of natural regeneration.
Despite low interest rates and the crisis, the DBU was able to increase its earnings in 2019 to 99.6 million euros compared to the previous year (95.2). At 56.4 million euros, the subsidy amount also increased by 3.7 million euros compared to 2018 (52.7), making it the fourth year in a row. A total of 213 projects were supported in 2019, as in the previous year. The foundation's capital increased by 36 million euros from 2.28 to 2.32 billion euros. DBU’s chief financial officer Michael Dittrich said: "It is important to us to be a reliable provider of funding even in times of crisis, especially for small and medium-sized companies".
translated by DeepL