Climate change and the timber trade – understanding the opportunities and challenges

One day seminar held to share knowledge and good practice, stimulate ideas and help timber businesses plan for climate change

News from Forest Research: March 2011

Timber stacked on a lorryClimate change raises many questions about the future, not least for those in the timber trade. At the end of February a one-day seminar considered questions such as: What are the possible impacts of climate change on timber properties, tree pests and diseases, and the sustainable procurement of timber? What can the timber trade do to respond to these challenges and opportunities?

The event was organised by the England Forest Industries Partnership and Forest Research, with support from Forestry Commission England and Natural England. It aimed to share knowledge and good practice, stimulate ideas and help timber businesses plan for climate change.

Forest Research scientists Barry Gardiner and Ian Tubby (who is on secondment to Forestry Commission England) gave presentations. Barry emphasised the crucial importance of species and provenance choice. He explained that the main impacts of climate change are likely to be increased growth rates and water stress, and that the biggest problems are likely to occur where species are close to or outside the area for which they are suitable.

Ian discussed current and long-term trends in bioenergy production and prices, highlighting threats and opportunities for timber businesses in the future. He noted that there are complex decisions to be made about how we make best use of land for food, fuel and fibre production.

Other presenters were Sofie Tind Nielsen from Proforest, who discussed sustainable procurement of timber, Ian Brownlee from the Forestry Commission, who reviewed plant health regulations and tree pests and diseases, and Julia Griffin, Social Responsibility Advisor for B&Q, who outlined the opportunities for marketing timber as a sustainable resource.

Presentation slides and audio recordings from the seminar

Species suitability maps

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This and other news stories can be found in the Spring 2011 issue of FR News, our online newsletter.