A new Forestry Commission guide sets out how landowners and farmers can adapt woodlands in the face of climate change.
Called Adapting forest and woodland management to the changing climate, the UK guide outlines steps that can be taken to help woodlands content with drought, changing weather patterns and more frequent, severe weather.
It suggests a range of measures, including diversifying the different types of trees planted across a landscape – such as changing the dominant species – to increase biodiversity. It also advises choosing varieties able to cope with frost, and pests and diseases.
The guide recommends that landowners consider encouraging more natural regeneration. Naturally regenerated areas may reduce wind, drought, frost, pest and disease risk where individuals are better adapted to changing local site conditions, it says.
Forestry Commission chairman 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.
He added: “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.”
Publication of the guide follows 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.
Woodland creation is an important part of the wider adaptation of society to climate change, as forests and woodlands can provide shade and shelter, give flood protection, and reduce both air pollution and soil erosion.
The Forestry Commission says implementing these steps will support the delivery of the England Trees Action Plan, which sets out the government’s long-term plan for the nation’s trees, woodlands and forests.
It says doing so will also underpin wider government efforts to plant 30,000ha of trees across the UK every year by 2025.