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Ensuring adaptation happens

The changing climate presents a challenge for forest management in England. Tree crops take many years to mature, and the planning horizons for forestry are long. There are many uncertainties associated with climate change, and this has proven to be a barrier to the implementation of adaptation strategies.

Recommendations on how practitioners can adapt the forests and increase resilience are available. However this information is often not accessible in a way that practitioners are likely to use or learn from. Furthermore, the uncertainty around climate projections and the likely consequences have led to caution in much of the available guidance. However, because of the long planning horizons for forestry, decisions need to be taken now for them to be effective in the climate change of the future.

Landowners and forest managers often work in some isolation from each other, tend to be pragmatic and practical, but can be uncomfortable with uncertainty. The Climate Change Action Plan for the PFE in England recognises this challenge, and recommends an approach to its staff that is 'anticipatory' of future climate conditions and endorses an approach that is 'not risk averse'. This approach by its very nature is somewhat experimental and will be iterative. To be successful it is important that the work is monitored and shared with other practitioners. This structured approach is known as an 'adaptive forest management' outside the UK.

"Adaptive management is widely proposed as a suitable approach to dealing with uncertainty and complexity in natural systems, particularly in relation to climate change. It is essentially an iterative, experimental and collaborative approach to resource management." - Forest Research

FCE will work with forestry sector organisations in England to deliver 'adaptive forest management' by:

  • interpreting the advice of scientists into unambiguous practical solutions;
  • developing a communication strategy;
  • developing a communication plan;
  • delivering effective communications in support of the UKFS Forests and Climate Change Guidelines.

This will be delivered in a practical, hands-on, manner by colleagues with experience and knowledge. They will need to know the answers to challenges such as plant supply of new species origin. They will need to be able to call on expert advice, as required, and have a sound understanding of the financial incentives available and regulations surrounding these.

The plan will use a range of media including:

  • hands-on visits to case studies;
  • meetings between practitioners;
  • clear, concise written guidance;
  • web resources, including social media.