IUFRO World Conference 2014

Forest Research scientists presented papers and led a variety of sessions during the IUFRO conference in Salt Lake City, Utah in October 2014. Around 2,500 forest scientists from over 100 countries, plus 1,000 foresters from the US and Canada attended the event.

IUFRO is the International Union of Forest Research Organisations, the global network of forest science cooperation.

Abstracts from the Forest Research papers are below.


Use of Continuous Cover Forestry enhances delivery of ecosystem services and adaptation to climate change in Sitka spruce planted forests.

W.L. Mason

Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) is the major species in the forests of the British Isles covering over one million hectares, especially in Ireland and Scotland. First introduced in 1852 and only widely planted since 1920, this species has usually been grown in single species even-aged stands managed on short rotations using a patch clearfelling silvicultural system. Over the last two decades, this prevailing silvicultural paradigm has been criticised for negative impacts upon the provision of cultural and regulating ecosystem services. These criticisms have lead to greater interest in Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF), an alternative silvicultural approach which seeks to develop irregular stand structures composed of a number of species. This paper summarises results from several long-term trials and other experimental studies in the British Isles that demonstrate how to implement silvicultural regimes that foster irregular stand structures in planted forests of Sitka spruce.  These results also show that such structures can provide improved aesthetic and biodiversity values compared to the traditional patch clearfelling regime. Recent studies also indicate that developing CCF structures in Sitka spruce forests can offer greater resilience to wind damage and other hazards, and hence are better adapted to withstand the impacts of projected climate change.

Wider Consequences of Introduced Forest Pathogens to Society in the UK

Joan Webber

Since their emergence over the last decade, several highly invasive pathogens threaten the survival and productivity of UK trees and forests. Arguably the two best known, Phytophthora ramorum and Chalara fraxinea arrived via plant trade and now pose distinct challenges dictated by their contrasting quarantine status, behaviour and host range. First impacts of P. ramorum occurred on ornamental plants in nurseries, then valuable heritage plants and broadleaf trees in gardens; then in 2009 it spread unexpectedly to commercially-grown larch causing extensive mortality. Apart from the environmental damage due to the sudden loss of millions of trees, plant health requirements to destroy or fell ramorum-affected plants and trees at owners cost has become a significant economic and political issue. Chalara fraxinea however, is not an EU quarantine organism and affects only ash, but the predicted loss of native ash from most woodland has aroused widespread concern and debate about EU plant health regulations. Both diseases have also heighted public awareness of the ecosystem destruction that can result from introduced non-native organisms, generating citizen science initiatives for the early detection or tracking of new pests and pathogens as well as for identifying host resistance in trees under threat from established pathogens.

Risk management in response to threat of tree disease: social and economic barriers

Chris Quine, Mariella Marzano, Julie Barnett, Anna Brown, Glynn Jones and Colin Price

The health of Britain’s trees is being challenged by a number of pests and pathogens.  Some of these are new arrivals, but others have been present for some time and only now are beginning to cause alarm by spreading in range and across tree species.  Dothistroma Needle Blight is one such threat and is particularly damaging to a number of pine species, including our native Scots pine.  Eradication of this disease is no longer possible but there are a number of measures that can lessen the impact of the disease.  Some of these options may require a change in practice by managers, may be costly for owners, or may involve collateral damage to other values held by those who have an interest in trees.  Whilst risk management needs to be underpinned with detailed knowledge of the biology of the disease, there is also a need for a greater understanding of the knowledge, values and beliefs of stakeholders, together with the costs and benefits of the proposed measures.  We report the results of an interdisciplinary project examining the social and economic barriers to adoption of disease management and how this improved understanding can be incorporated into strategic and operational risk management.

Ecosystem services of UK woodlands: downscaling scenarios and assessments from national to landscape scale

Chris Quine and Duncan Ray

In 2011, the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) highlighted the major contribution that woodlands make to ecosystem services and the lack of market value for many of them. Since then Follow-on (Phase 2) work has started to explore in detail the range of possible policy response options within different socio-political and climatic scenarios.  There is growing interest in how to incorporate these concepts into sustainable forest management. In this paper we summarise the woodland-specific findings of the UKNEA and describe new work to assess the delivery of a suite of ecosystem services from wooded landscapes now and into different socio-economic futures. In particular, we describe the application of methods for assessing a range of ecosystem services to contrasting case study sites in the UK using a range of climate change and policy futures scenarios.  We assess the delivery of key goods and services in these futures, based on decisions on potential forest planning and silvicultural system choices from forest policy, woodland management incentives, and acceptance of risk.  We conclude by ranking forest types, forest management alternatives, and climate change adaptation tactics for different woodland regions of the UK.

The Economics of Product Quantity vs. Product quality in GB's forest resource

J. Paul McLean, John Fonweban, Elspeth Macdonald

By northern European standards, planted forests in Great Britain offer a relatively short rotation. Owners have the ability to plant and harvest within their lifetime: this has an economic benefit for the individual. However, with a relatively short rotation focused on volume production, there may be a compromise in terms of forest product quality, which could impact on value recovery. Here we will examine definitions of quality with respect to changing demands for both forests and forest products, including carbon sequestration. In particular we will link existing models of timber quality with economic models and analyses to assess current systems of forest management and raw material production and compare these with a range of alternative future scenarios.