A TEAM of experts from across Europe has produced a list of 15 over-looked and emerging issues that are likely to have a significant impact on UK forests over the next 50 years. 

This is the first ‘horizon scanning’ exercise – a technique to identify relatively unknown threats, opportunities, and new trends – of the country's forests. The aim is to help researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and society in general, better prepare for the future and address threats before they become critical.

Dr Eleanor Tew, first author, visiting researcher at Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and head of forest planning at Forestry England, said: “The next 50 years will bring huge changes to UK forests: the threats they face, the way that we manage them, and the benefits they deliver to society.” 

However not all emerging issues are threats – some are new opportunities.


The full list of issues identified by the report includes:

  1. Catastrophic forest ecosystem collapse
  2. Increased drought and flooding change the social costs and benefits of trees
  3. Forest management becomes more challenging due to changing seasonal working windows
  4. Protecting and enhancing soil microbial ecology becomes a higher priority
  5. Viruses and viroids emerge as pathogens of increasing importance for trees
  6. eDNA revolutionises our understanding of forest ecosystems
  7. Trees are at the heart of future urban planning
  8. The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) drives transparency and investment in nature-positive management
  9. Natural capital funding streams are greatly upscaled
  10. New technologies facilitate widespread adoption of smart silviculture
  11. New technologies improve worker health and safety
  12. New wood product markets stimulate more active forest management
  13. UK commercial forest resources may not match future value chains
  14. Unpredictable supply and demand dynamics in global wood product markets
  15. International commitments will spotlight ecosystem integrity and drive monitoring efforts.