“Insufficient”. This is the verdict of the Court of Auditors concerning public support for research on forest adaptation to climate change. The report published Tuesday warns of the ravages of deer and the need to group plots together to better manage them. Eaten by fire or insects, the French metropolitan forest is dying more quickly. Climatic conditions influence the success of plantations, 38% of which failed in 2022, a year marked by a severe drought.

In this difficult context, the State has notably created a fund of 250 million euros for forest renewal, with the ambition of renewing 10% of the forest in ten years by planting a billion trees. But for the Court of Auditors, public support for research on the adaptation of the forest and the timber sector “remains insufficient”. The institution calls for “forest groups” to “improve the efficiency of the management of private forests” and for increased support for forest municipalities.

While two thirds of the 3.3 million private owners own areas of less than one hectare, the Court pleads for management by “an intercommunal structure”, created with the aid of the State, which would allow “savings in costs”. ‘scale’ in the development of management plans and ‘pooling risks’.

The situation is all the more critical as the productive conifer forests of the Grand-Est have been decimated by attacks by bark beetles, wood-eating insects. “Between 8 and 12%” of the 15,000 forest municipalities today present “a strong risk of deterioration of their accounts”: some are already “in great financial difficulty” and public aid is far from compensating for the loss of income linked to the products. foresters, underlines the Court of Auditors.

Thus, the municipalities of Burgundy-Franche-Comté “benefited from aid of 300,000 euros when their forest products decreased by 20 million euros compared to their average amount”. The Court also wants to see a reduction in the “too large” population of deer, these large herbivores fond of young shoots of “the most resilient” species in the face of climate change.

“In 1973, the national hunting plan for deer covered 2,339 individuals. This number increased in 2021 to 108,438,” notes the Court of Auditors, which pleads for “better regulation” by hunters but also public operators. “Ensuring a silvo-hunting balance everywhere in the territory would make it possible to regenerate the forest without implementing protections and therefore to achieve savings of between 225 and 375 million euros,” says the institution.