The science behind the National Assessment of Forestry’s role in combating climate change

Forest Research have played an important role in writing and delivering the recently launched first National Assessment of Forestry and Climate Change (“Combating Climate Change – A Role for UK Forests”)

News from Forest Research: November 2009

Prof. Peter Freer-Smith (FC Chief Scientist) and Prof. David Read
Prof. Peter Freer-Smith (Forestry Commission Chief Scientist) and Prof. David Read who led the panel of experts who prepared the Assessment, at the launch event

The report provides peer-reviewed information at the national level following on from the recommendations from the global evaluation provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is believed to be the first national study of its type in the world.

The report was prepared by a panel of authors chaired by Professor Sir David Read, Emeritus Professor of Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield and recently Vice President of the Royal Society. The Rt. Hon Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs launched the report on Wednesday 25 November. 

Prof. Peter Freer-Smith, the Forestry Commission’s Chief Scientist, commented:

 “We are delighted to have been asked by Professor Read to participate, along with other leading national and international scientists, to this assessment since it confirms the importance of Forest Research’s work on the effects of climate change on forests, as well as how forests and trees can be used to reduce the effects of any change.”

A number of Forest Research staff have been working as Steering Group members, editors and authors together with other leading independent scientists to conduct this assessment. Prof. Andy Moffat, Head of Forest Research’s Centre for Forestry and Climate Change, remarked:

“This is an authoritative review of the existing research, much of it carried out by Forest Research, covering the interactions between forests and the atmosphere. Our research has contributed towards a better understanding of climate change impacts, adaptation, and on the role of UK forests in mitigation (including abatement of UK GHG emissions). It also supports our expanding knowledge on biomass energy and forest products, the urban environment and socio-economics of forestry and climate change. The evidence we provided helped to show that if an extra four per cent of the UK’s land were planted with new woodland over the next 40 years, it could be locking up ten per cent of the nation’s target CO 2 emissions by the 2050s.”

The report also sets out future priorities for UK forestry and forestry research. Major responses are needed to deal with the novel and changing circumstances and the uncertainties posed by climate changer for the sector.

In presenting the report Professor Sir David Read FRS, who chaired the Assessment, said:

“All our research points to the fact that forestry can make a significant and cost-effective contribution to meeting the UK’s challenging emissions reduction targets.”

His key message was “Plant now and use sustainably".