The government has launched a Climate Change Hub to support landowners, woodland managers and forestry practitioners in addressing climate change threats. The initiative is a joint venture between Defra, Forest Research, Scottish Forestry and the Welsh Government. It centralises the latest resources, information and guidance on climate change adaptation.
It has been launched because of the unprecedented projected rate of climate change – from warmer summers to more frequent extreme conditions such as drought periods and heavy rainfall events. And because of the real need for immediate action to improve the resilience of forests and woodlands, and to protect the benefits that they provide, including carbon sequestration.
The Climate Change Hub will be managed by Forest Research. As stated, it will centralise and distil the latest information and UKFS (United Kingdom Forestry Standard) guidance on climate change adaptation to encourage uptake of adaptive practice by forest and woodland owners and managers. It will provide concise information about risks from the changing climate, how to identify suitable adaptation measures and examples of how other managers are implementing adaptive practice.
There is no single recommended approach to climate change adaptation, as each woodland has different objectives and conditions. To enable managers to make informed decisions for their own woodlands, the Climate Change Hub also includes detailed guidance through the decision-making process, step-by-step, including information about the online tools available to support risk management and species choice.
Forestry minister, Trudy Harrison, said: “Trees and tree management are crucial parts of our plan to reach Net Zero by 2050, and resources such as the Climate Change Hub support the forest industry to make better, more informed and ultimately more sustainable decisions when it comes to tree planting and woodland management.”
Forestry Commission chief executive, Richard Stanford, said: “Climate change will affect our trees, wood and forests. We need to ensure that our management practices ensure they thrive for the long-term to ensure all the benefits they provide are maximised. Trees are a critical part of our endeavours to tackle climate change; trees are the most efficient and cost-effective method of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Climate Change Hub will allow all of us to see this critical information in one place for the first time, enabling land managers and foresters to make the best decisions for our planet on tree and forest management.”
Woodland owners are encouraged to plant and manage more diverse and resilient woodlands of varying ages and species in the face of climate change.
To counter future extreme weather risks from severe storms to drought, forests and woodlands should have a broad range of trees at different ages, from seedlings to trees to vary the size of our trees. Larger, more mature trees are more susceptible to severe winds than younger trees, so promoting the growth of trees of varying ages helps to strengthen their collective resilience.
The Climate Change Hub supports the government’s wider Net Zero strategy and follows commitments set out within the recently published Environmental Improvement Plan to improve the UK’s mitigation and adaptation to climate change.