Christmas trees and tourists: The damage from France's ongoing drought

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Christmas trees and tourists: The damage from France's ongoing drought

With the majority of France now facing water restrictions and warnings, the damage of the long summer's drought is already being seen across the country.


A total of 83 out of France's 96 mainland départements now have some kind of water restrictions in place, and although temperatures have dropped since the record-breaking days of late June and July the consequences of the drought are visible everywhere. 

Farmers are having to find solutions to replace the scorched grass usually used for grazing.

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Map: Propluvia

"When you have temperatures up to 40 degrees, you can water the grass all you like, your pasture will still resemble a yellow doormat," Michel Masson, a farmer in the Loiret region, told Le Parisien.

"Lots of farmers have already exhausted their winter stock to feed their herds."

Forests, too, are turning red across France due to rising temperatures. Around a third of the country is covered by trees, but forests are beginning to suffer the consequences of repeated heatwaves over the last few years and the recent dry winter.

Fir trees suffering from the drought in Masevaux in eastern France. Photo: AFP

In the Masevaux forest in the Vosges mountains in eastern France, around 10 percent of the trees died of thirst over the course of six months, Cédric Ficht, director of the Mulhouse branch of the National Forests Office, told Europe1.

Many of the trees which decorate French homes at Christmas are grown in the Vosges, but local newspaper Vosges Matin reports that some producers have lost up to 80 percent of their freshly-planted trees this year because of the drought.

The lack of rain has also had an impact on groundwater tables.

Earlier this month, thousands of fish were found dead in Capestang, near Béziers in southern France. The fish supposedly perished from asphyxia due to low water levels provoked by high temperatures, France Bleu reports.

Parts of the bed of the River Loire have dried up. Photo: AFP

Low water levels have even forced the closure of the Canal du Centre in central France since August 6th.

The mayor of the Fragnes commune told France 3 that the closure would cost the village "tens of thousands of euros" in lost revenue, as fewer tourists arrive by boat.

Restrictions on water usage have been in place in some departments since as early as mid-May.

Many areas, particularly in central France, are on a red 'crisis' alert. This means water can only be used for drinking water, sanitation and public health uses.

To find out what restrictions are in place where you live, click here.


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