With climate change now one of the greatest global challenges, research is underway to establish the likely impacts on all aspects of the environment. Information in these pages provides an initial description of the likely impacts on aspects of Scotland's forest industry, with preliminary recommendations on how the industry might respond and adapt to the challenge.
There are many uncertainties in the extent and range of climate change, and its likely impact on trees, management systems and forest operations. A key basis for risk planning and management is diversification; from broadening the choice of genetic material, mixing tree species in stands, to varying management systems and the timing of operations.
As trees take many decades to mature, foresters must anticipate much further into the future than other land-managers. Although our knowledge about the likely effects of climate change is continually improving, it is important that today’s policy is informed by predictive research, albeit imperfect.
About the information provided
Information has been compiled from knowledge within the forest scientific community.
In addition, spatial modelling, using the decision-support tool Ecological Site Classification (ESC), has been applied to future climate emissions scenario projections to examine likely changes in tree species suitability.
Maps are indicative and use coarse-resolution soil information with future climate variables derived from simulations provided by the United Kingdom Climate Impacts Programme (2002) (UKCIP02) at 5 km resolution. It is very important that the maps are used only to infer trends, and that forest planning for the future climate involves careful site- and stand-based consideration.
Funders and partners
This research is funded by the Forestry Commission Climate Change programme and Forestry Commission Scotland.
Forestry Commission policy
Forestry Commission policy on climate change stems from the UK Government's response to the Kyoto Protocol with the publication of the strategic document on climate change: ‘Climate Change – the UK programme’ published in November 2000. The Forestry Commission and Northern Ireland Forest Service helped to produce this strategy and are responsible for ensuring that our forestry policies and practices allow UK woodlands to withstand the rigours of climate change.
The Scottish Forestry Strategy identifies climate change as the number one theme cross-cutting all other aspects of forestry. The strategy calls for a robust adaptation policy to prepare the industry to adjust and maintain or improve sustainable forest management.
Publications and reports
- Impacts of climate change on forests in Scotland – a preliminary synopsis of spatial modelling research(PDF-921K)
By Duncan Ray.
Forestry Commission Research Note 101.
- Potential impacts of drought and disease on forestry in Scotland (PDF-2380K)
By Sarah Green and Duncan Ray.
Forestry Commission Research Note 4.
- Impacts of climate change on forests in Scotland - final report (PDF-1225K)
By Duncan Ray with sections drafted by Dave Wainhouse, Joan Webber and Barry Gardiner.
14th January 2008.
- The evidence supporting the use of Continuous Cover Forestry in adapting Scotland’s forests to the risks of climate change (PDF-891K)
By Victoria Stokes and Gary Kerr.
- Climate change and the future for broadleaved tree species in Britain
By M. Broadmeadow, D. Ray and C. Samuel.
- Climate Change and British Woodland (PDF-2872K)
By M. Broadmeadow and D. Ray.
Forestry Commission Information Note 69.
- Climate change: Impact on UK Forests
Describes current thinking on the most likely effects of climate change on UK forests and woodlands. It is recommended reading for forest managers and advisers, students and all those with an interest in the consequences of global change to our forests.
Forestry Commission Bulletin 125.
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