FORESTERS are being urged to adapt their woodlands now to minimise the risks of climate change.

Future-proofing the UK's forests to be more resilient will ensure they continue to provide environmental, social and economic benefits, and play a key role in achieving net-zero by 2050.

That's according to advice published today by Forest Research. Contained within the Forestry Standard Practice Guide, officials recommend increasing tree species and diversity, creating mixed woodlands, using natural regeneration, careful design plans and careful selection of tree provenance. 

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Chair of the Forestry Commission, Sir William Worsley, said: “The woodlands of the future need to be planted and managed differently if they are to be resilient to our changing climate. 

"By planting a more diverse range of tree species in the right place and in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard, we can foster healthy and thriving treescapes across the country.

Forestry Journal: William WorsleyWilliam Worsley

"This new guide will help land managers protect our precious woodlands and ensure their resilience for years to come.”

The guide also advises:

  • Choosing seeds best suited for the local site and climate to reduce the risks associated with drought, frost, and pests and diseases.
  • Recommends that landowners and foresters consider encouraging more natural regeneration. 

Today’s publication follows a range of announcements throughout this week promoting the benefits of healthy trees and plants, as part of National Plant Health Week (9-15 May).

These include the launch of the Forest Research Holt Laboratory and the Centre for Forest Protection, both of which will conduct research into tree pests and diseases, as well as ways to manage emerging threats from climate change.

Scotland's Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan, said: “Our forests and woodlands have such a substantial role in helping to reduce climate change and nature loss, but we need to protect them and ensure they are up to the job well into the future.

“As I highlighted in the recent ICF conference on Climate Smart Forestry, we are facing serious challenges with a rapidly changing climate.

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Forestry Journal: Mairi McAllanMairi McAllan

“There is a climate emergency upon us right now and keeping the status quo is simply not an option. It is essential that we make sure our forests are fit for the future.”

The UKFS Practice Guide to ‘Adapting forest and woodland management to the changing climate’ can be downloaded free of charge from the Forest Research online publications catalogue. Hard copies will also be available shortly (£12 per copy).

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