Exploring future trends in pest damage to forests in a changing climate

Oak Processionary mothA new Forestry Commission Research Note explores future trends in insect pests’ effects on Britain’s forests as the climate changes. 

The research note was written by Forest Research entomologists Dr Daegan Inward and Dr Dave Wainhouse.

It outlines the main changes projected for the British climate over the coming decades and how forest insects, grouped according to similarities in their ecology and life history, are likely to be affected by climate change.  The research note is intended to help woodland managers, foresters and researchers with long-term forest management planning decisions.

Dr Inward said,

“The key messages from the review we’ve conducted for this research note are that:

  • managing and mitigating the risks of pest damage is an important aspect of sustainable forest management;
  • climate change will affect the abundance and geographical distribution of forest insect pests and the severity of damage they cause; and
  • climate change will also affect host trees (in some cases making them more susceptible to attacks by pests) and the natural predators of pests.”

Dr Inward added that the effects on pests are likely to be complex, influencing not only their rate of development, number of generations per year and the seasonal timing of life-cycle stages.

The publication "Research Note: The influence of climate change on forest insect pests in Britain" is available to download.

Information on Forest Research’s extensive work on pests and diseases is available on this website.