Forests and woodlands are an important part of our landscape and provide many benefits to society. The tree species that are native to the UK have adapted to the local climate, atmosphere and soils over many years. However, human activities have resulted in changes to the natural environment, especially over the past 200 years. It is expected that the climate of the UK will become milder and wetter in winter, and significantly hotter and drier in the summer months over the coming century. These changes to our climate are predicted to be larger and more rapid than any since the last ice-age, posing real problems for trees, woodland and forestry.
This research programme is improving our understanding of how woodland will respond to the many environmental drivers associated with climate change. This knowledge is being used to provide predictions of future changes to tree survival and growth and the functioning of woodland ecosystems, and to develop guidance on how best to adapt to the impending challenges presented by climate change. With the development of our understanding, it is becoming apparent that the impacts of climate change are relevant to almost all avenues of forest and woodland research, and the issue is under active consideration in many other research programmes.
The development of guidance on climate change impacts and adaptation uses a number of approaches, including impact studies, process and empirical model development and the interpretation of forest monitoring data.