Climate Change Research Group

The Climate Change Research Group works to improve understanding of: the impact of climate change on forests and forestry; what role forestry can have in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and climate change; and how forestry can adapt to reduce the impact of climate change and to benefit from any opportunities. The research is across the spectrum from more fundamental measurements, through developing methods and tools, undertaking practical action and demonstration, and providing advice and evidence to underpin policy. We have many external collaborations in the UK and Europe.

Group staff are based at both Alice Holt in Surrey (England), and the Northern Research Station near Edinburgh (Scotland).

James MorisonDr James Morison - Head of Climate Change Research Group

James researches climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation aspects. He is involved in assessing tree, stand and forest scale carbon and GHG balances and understanding environmental effects on them, and in work reviewing impacts and promoting adaptation measures.  He has a background in tree and crop environmental physiology, meteorology and ecology.

Gail AtkinsonDr Gail Atkinson

Gail is working to demonstrate adaptation to the changing climate across the forestry sector. Her research interests support the delivery of more resilient forests by establishing case studies and developing tools and information needed to develop adaptation strategies and support adaptive management practices. She contributes to a range of interdisciplinary research projects, where these link to alternative adaptation strategies for woodland management. 

Stephen BathgateStephen Bathgate

Stephen designs and develops spatial decision support tools to assist forestry practitioners apply the latest research in their planning and site assessment activities.  Those tools and models include Ecological Site Classification and the Hylobius Management Support System. He also leads the implementation of integrated simulation tools that allow researchers to explore ecosystem services in the context of different climatic conditions and forest management options.  

 Kate Beauchamp Dr Kate Beauchamp 

Kate works on climate change adaptation. She works closely with the forest sector and policy teams to develop knowledge exchange resources including the Scottish demonstration forest at Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. She is interested in assessing species diversity and the suitability of novel species. Kate is currently involved in assessing ecosystem service provision under future climate and alternative management scenarios.

Eric CasellaDr Eric Casella 

Eric works on process-based modelling of water and carbon dioxide fluxes, and the energy and carbon balances of temperate forest ecosystems, as well as assessing the risks of climate change to forest function. He is currently developing new mathematical algorithms to extract canopy and forest structural components from terrestrial and airborne LiDAR scans to underpin modelling and carbon stock assessment.

Ed EatonEd Eaton 

Ed’s research is concerned with various aspects of tree ecophysiology, and he is involved with running the long-established carbon flux site in the Straits Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest, Forest Research’s Intensive Forest Monitoring programme across GB, and the Environmental Change Network site at Alice Holt. Ed also has active interests in dendrochronology and forest meteorology, as well as tree phenology.

Sophie HaleDr Sophie Hale 

Sophie works on aspects of continuous cover forestry and wind risk modelling.  She was responsible for recent developments of the ForestGALES wind risk management tool.  Sophie is now developing a tool aimed at guiding management of irregular forests to reduce risk of wind damage.  She is also involved in developing MOSES_GB, a growth model for irregular forest stands.

Tom LocatelliDr Tom Locatelli

Tom has recently started work on adaptation, particularly within the ClimateXChange project. His background is in modelling wind risk, contributing to the development of ForestGALES and its applications to silvicultural choices in a changing climate.

Bruce NicollDr Bruce Nicoll 

Bruce leads the research programme: ‘Assessing resilience and sustainability of woodlands and forests’. His research includes tree root architecture and the risk of wind damage to forests; how trees stabilise slopes against landslides and erosion; and how forests can be adapted for resilience to climate change. He is responsible for the project that developed ForestGALES (a wind-risk model for British forests) and FR participation in ClimateXChange, Scotland’s centre of expertise on climate change.

Mike PerksDr Mike Perks 

Mike has over 20 years of research experience and has worked on a variety of projects, from nursery production and seedling growth through to decision support and knowledge exchange, continuous cover forestry, carbon sequestration and operational impacts of forest management upon climate mitigation by forestry. Mike is a tree ecophysiologist and applies his understanding of fundamental plant responses to the environment to guide forest management practice.

Matt Wilkinson staff profileMatthew Wilkinson 

Matt’s research focuses on understanding the GHG balance of woodland and forestry, including the role of climate, phenology and management.  In addition to contributing to a variety of research projects, he is responsible for the Alice Holt / Straits Carbon Flux site and has over fifteen years experience of stand scale carbon flux measurements.

Georgios XenakisDr Georgios Xenakis  

Georgios manages the Harwood Forest GHG study site in Northumberland. His research focuses on measuring the impact of forest management on GHG and energy fluxes in an upland forest plantation. He has a background in forestry, ecophysiology and modelling and has a strong interest in remote sensing application for GHG balance estimation.

Sirwan YamulkiDr Sirwan Yamulki 

Sirwan researches climate change impacts and mitigation, in particular measuring the greenhouse gas (CH4, N2O and CO2) balances of forest soils, forest management and land use change and their interaction with environmental variables. He has a background in GHG flux measurement from agricultural management, methodology development and atmospheric chemistry, and is interested in GHG flux modelling.

PhD students

Staff in the Group collaborate with a number of Universities and Research Institutes to provide post-graduate opportunities, including PhDs, some through Research Council-funded Doctoral Training Programmes and some through CASE studentship partnerships:


Shirley Cade (Royal Holloway, University of London): measuring and modelling forest soil GHG fluxes

Jack Matthews (University of Essex):  scaling up stomatal responses to predict tree water use.

Valeria Mazzola (University of Aberdeen): Carbon and greenhouse gas implications of integrated energy security and climate change mitigation options for Scotland.

Gertjan Meijer (University of Dundee): root-soil interactions: understanding how tree root systems can be used most effectively to stabilise vulnerable slopes.

Ewan Pinnington (University of Reading): data assimilation for modelling forest carbon stocks.

Gemma Purser (University of Edinburgh and CEH Edinburgh): assessing biogenic volatile organic carbon emissions (bVOC) from different tree species suggested for short-rotation forestry.

Romain Rombourg (University of Grenoble-Inria):  developing improved methods for computing tree volumes and carbon stocks from terrestrial laser scan information.


2012-2016: Tommaso Locatelli (University of Edinburgh): developing and testing models of wind damage risk for south-west Europe.

2012-2016: Andrés Plaza (University of Cambridge): measuring and modelling tree canopy development.

2012-15: Matt Upson (Cranfield University):  measuring soil carbon changes under farm woodland and agroforestry.

2010-14: Jack Lonsdale (University of Edinburgh): prediction of carbon sequestration by UK forests: reduction of uncertainty by a model data fusion approach.

2010-14: Richard Nair (University of Edinburgh): interactions between atmospheric nitrogen deposition and forest carbon cycle.

2008-15: Andrew Lesley (University of Edinburgh): aspects of Eucalyptus as a genus for short rotation forestry in Great Britain.

2008-12: Eleanor Swaine (Newcastle University): carbon turnover in forest and grassland soils - will global warming turn C sinks into sources?

2008-12: Hamish Mackintosh (University of Edinburgh): developing the Silviculture of Continuous Cover Forestry: using the experience and data collected from the Glentress Trial Area.