New guide for forest managers to help adapt forests to climate change

A new guide explaining how landowners and managers can adapt their forests in the face of climate change has been published today (Saturday 14 May) by the Forestry Commission, Forestry Scotland, Wales Natural Resources and Northern Ireland Forest Service, as National Plant Health Sunday nearly end.

The UK Forestry Standard Practice Guide ‘Adapting forest and forest management to climate change’ outlines steps that can be taken to grow forests that will be resilient to current and future threats as a result of climate change, such as droughts, changing weather patterns and more frequent, bad weather events.

For our forests and forests to thrive, adaptation measures must be carefully considered. This guide presents a range of such actions, including diversifying the variety of tree species planted across the landscape – such as changing dominant species – to increase biodiversity. It also suggests selecting seeds that are most suitable for the location and local climate to reduce the risks associated with drought, frost, and pests and diseases. Land owners and foresters are also recommended to consider encouraging more natural regeneration. Naturally regenerated areas can reduce the risk of wind, drought, frost, pests and disease as individuals are better adapted to changing local site conditions.

The Chair of the Forestry Commission, Sir William Worsley said:

The forests of tomorrow will need to be planted and managed differently if they are to be resilient to our changing climate.

By planting a wider variety of tree species in the right places and in accordance with the UK Forestry Standards, we can grow healthy, thriving tree-lines across the country. This new guide will help land managers protect our precious forests and ensure their resilience for years to come.

Today’s publication follows announcements throughout the week promoting the healthy benefits of trees and plants, as part of National Plant Health Week (9-15 May). This includes the launch of the Holt Laboratory for Forest Research and the Center for Forest Protection, both of which will conduct innovative research on tree pests and diseases, as well as ways to manage emerging threats from climate change.

The creation of forests is an important part of wider community adaptation to climate change, as forests and forests can provide shade and protection, provide flood protection, and reduce air pollution and soil erosion. Planting trees removes carbon dioxide from the air, stores carbon in wood products throughout their lives and helps manage flood risk.

Implementing these measures into day-to-day forest management will support the implementation of the UK’s Tree Action Plan, which sets out the Government’s long-term plans for the country’s trees, forests and forests. It will also support the Government’s broader efforts to at least triple the UK tree planting rate by the end of this Parliament, plant 30,000 hectares of trees across the UK per year by 2025, and achieve Net Zero by 2050.

This guide was developed by Forest Research, part of the Forestry Commission and the UK’s premier organization for forestry and tree-related research.

The UKFS Practice Guide to ‘Adapting forest and forest management to climate change’ is available for free download from Forest Research’s online publication catalog. Hard copies will also be available soon (£12 per copy).

More information on support resources for the Guide is available here.

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