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Developing climate change adaptation strategies for forests (ForeStClim)

ForeStClim is an EU-funded environmental project addressing forests and climate change. The short name stands for “Transnational Forestry Management Strategies in Response to Regional Climate Change Impacts“.

Summary

Wolfcleuch waterfall in Craik Forest. Scottish Borders FD
Forest stream and waterfall in Craik forest. ForeStClim will assess the impact of climate change and forest management on the downstream hydrology of streams and rivers. The project will examine ways to reduce flooding in towns at risk, such as Hawick in the Scottish Borders.

Climate change is affecting European regions in different ways. This Interreg 4b funded project focuses on the assessment of climate change impacts on forests and forestry in north western Europe.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is keen to provide incentives for forest scientists and managers to describe, assess, and recommend robust adaptation strategies for European forests at a regional level. A primary requirement of Interreg funding is knowledge transfer - to disseminate the work widely to the the public, local government, agencies, and NGOs. In ForeStClim, a main objective is to demonstrate tools and techniques for adapting forest management to climate change, using case study forest areas in the partner countries.

In particular, the project will assess and characterise climate change impacts across North-West Europe in terms of:

  • Forest site characteristics
  • Forest protection functions
  • Forest yield
  • Biodiversity
  • Water resources
  • Carbon sequestration.

These criteria will be evaluated using multi-level risk assessments associated with maintaining forest ecosystem services. The work will provide recommendations and adaptation strategies.

Forest Research's contribution to ForeSTClim

Development of a case study area in the Scottish Borders

For the UK, information and data will be used assess the needs and options for climate change adaptation in a productive upland Sitka spruce forest in the Scottish Borders. Using future climate projections from UKCP09, and using climate projections from ForeStClim's own team of climate scientists in Luxembourg, we will test forest design plans and silvicultural systems using new configurations of Ecological Site Classification (ESC) and ForestGALES. The success of management scenarios will be measured by a set of indicators based on forest productive capacity, environmental quality, biodiversity maintenance and social impacts.

Initial work

Working closely with Forestry Commission Scotland, initial work will focus on the development of a baseline management scenario for the forest, based on current forest design plans. By running the plans forward in time we will create snapshots of the likely spatial and structural components of the forest landscape in the future.

In the spring of 2009, the new UKCP09 data will be released, providing new insights into the probability of climate change in the future. With these data we hope to assess the risk and likelihood of abiotic impacts in the future forest.

Ongoing work

As the project unfolds we will test different adaptation scenarios. ForeStClim will also assess how climate change and how different types of adaptation responses will affect water quality and quantity.

Working closely with our UK and European partners we hope to assess how ESC and ForestGALES perform in other countries. The project is closely aligned with our other core funded work - to develop decision support tools that support climate change adaptation in the UK.

Funders and partners

Delegates at the ForeSTClim opening conference last September in Koblenz, Germany

EU flag
The project has 21 partners from the UK, Germany, France, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg who will each contribute work to develop climate change adaptation strategies in the forests of north-west Europe.

In the UK the project brings together science and policy teams from Forest Research (FR), Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), University of Newcastle, University of Bangor, Mountain Environments and the Mersey Forest.

Status

The project will run for 4 years, finishing at the end of 2012.

Contact

For further information please contact:

Duncan Ray