Adapting Scotland’s forests to a future climate

The impacts of climate change on forestry in Scotland

News from Forest Research: February 2008

Automatic self travelling irrigator moving between beds of Sitka spruce
Forest nurseries in eastern Scotland will have to adapt to the drier summers, for example by using more irrigation.

A recent report detailing the impacts of climate change on forestry in Scotland was published in January, highlighting the important role of Scottish forests in the national effort to tackle climate change. The report, Impacts of climate change on forests and forestry in Scotland - a synopsis of spatial modelling research, was written by Forest Research scientist Duncan Ray for Forestry Commission Scotland, and outlines steps that the forestry sector may need to take to lessen the impact of warmer, drier summers and milder, wetter, windier winters.

The publication was launched at a meeting held on 15 January attended by Scottish Environment Minister Michael Russell at Forest Research’s Northern Research Station, in Roslin, Midlothian.

The Minister said:

“Climate change is not something that is on its way – it is happening already. Over the past 40 years there has been a 30 day increase in the growing season, over 20 fewer frost days per year and a 60 per cent increase in winter rainfall. Forests and forestry contribute a great deal to our society and they have huge potential for making a significant contribution to lessening the impact of climate change.

“To do this most effectively, the industry needs to be proactive in looking at new ways of maintaining the health of the nation’s forests.

“It will mean that the look and shape of our forests will change. The Commission’s proposals will help the people who manage the country’s forests and woodlands to consider what steps they can take now to ensure that those forests remain strong, healthy and accessible for generations to come.”

Chris Quine, Head of Forest Research’s Centre for Human and Ecological Sciences, added:

“Forest Research is involved in a wide range of work that aims to strengthen and enhance Scotland’s forests and the forestry industry, from developing habitat networks to improving timber quality and contributing to the increasingly important social role of forestry.

“Climate change is the issue of our time and our report is a vital piece of work that will be of interest to the public and private agencies involved in forestry. We are working to inform the healthy debate that needs to take place on the best approaches for adaptation of forestry to
climate change.”

A summary of the main findings has been published as a Forestry Commission Research Note. That summary along with a copy of the full report and further information can be found here.


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This and other news stories can be found in the February 2008 issue of FR Eye, our online newsletter.

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