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Climate Change Hub

Find out if we’ve already addressed your query with our frequently asked questions.

Feel free to contact us with any additional questions, and we’d love you to complete our feedback form to provide suggestions for new content you’d like to see included on the Climate Change Hub.

I have recently bought a woodland and am new to forestry.  Where do I start? 

Take a look at our new to woodland management page which will help guide you through the process and suggest some useful resources including case studies and videos.

I own a very small woodland and don’t have a management plan or estate team. What simple steps can I take? 

The 5 step adaptation framework has been developed for landowners of all scales and it can be adapted to suit sites where there is currently no woodland management plan in place.  The process of assessing vulnerabilities of, and risks to, your site, using one or more of the online decision making tools available, would be a great start.

Timber production is the primary objective of a large woodland I manage. Any changes to the way we currently manage the land could be high risk and we need confidence these will work. How can we be sure we’re selecting the right measures? 

The impacts of the changing climate are uncertain, and we are moving into new combinations of conditions, so that we can only offer guidance, not recipes. This guidance is based on the best scientific understanding and evidence available and is constantly being updated. Two-way information sharing between woodland managers and climate change researchers is crucial to improve our understanding of effective adaptive practice.

We recommend that any changes you consider are carefully aligned to your management objectives and you follow the five-step adaptation framework. Visit our timber production page for guidance and check out our adaptation case studies which show the steps other landowners are taking to increase the resilience of their woodland and forests.

Which species should I select that will be better suited to the changing climate?

Species selection is just one of many factors that woodland managers should consider and this will be influenced by a wide range of local factors including owners’ own management objectives.

It is therefore essential to consider the principal purpose(s) of the woodland when assessing options for climate change adaptation.

  • If timber production is the principal objective, species and provenance should be well adapted to both the current and future predicted climate. Non-native species could be considered, particularly in southern Britain and on more freely draining soils.
  • If the retention of high forest for leisure and amenity use is the principal objective, then the considerations should be similar to those for timber production, although a wider range of species could be included.
  • If the restoration or maintenance of semi-natural woodland, together with its associated ground flora is the objective, native species should be planted. However, in southern Britain, non-native provenances could be considered and an assessment of the long-term suitability of the woodland type on a given site should be made considering the projected climate change. The character of the associated vegetation community is, however, likely to change.
  • If the maintenance of the genetic resource native to Britain in the principal objective, then only seed from native, ancient woodland should be planted. The long-term potential of survival for ‘genetic reserves’ should also be assessed. The translocation of genetic material to colder wetter climates could be considered.

In order to help identify species choice, the Forest Research Ecological Site Classification (ESC) tool takes site and soil information of a particular site, considers six climatic and soil variables and provides information on suitability for over 50 tree species, now and with projected climate change.

What’s the relationship between climate change and diseases like ash die back and how can I future-proof my woodland for both?  

This is an area of on-going research, but it is becoming clear that the changing climate will increase risks to trees and woodland from pests and diseases, both directly and indirectly.  Changes in temperature, precipitation, soil moisture and  humidity have all been shown to have a direct influence on the growth, dispersal and survival success of many pathogens. Temperature and moisture patterns are often key to the development of epidemics, so the changing climate is likely to affect pest and pathogen risk. Milder winters will increase the ability of some pests and pathogens to survive over winter in the UK, for example.

Increasing resilience to climate change through appropriate adaptive measures will in turn also help increase resilience to diseases. See the UKFS Practice Guide ‘Adapting forest and woodland management to the changing climate’

Download the UKFS Adaptation Practice Guide

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for further guidance.

I’d appreciate talking to someone about my woodland and getting some advice. Who can I speak to? 

England: The Forestry Commission’s team of local woodland officers and woodland creation officers can support with queries about grants, tree felling licences, regulations, woodland creation etc.

Wales: Guidance for woodland owners and managers is available online from Natural Resources Wales including contact details for the Sustainable Forest Management Team on this web page.

Scotland: Scottish Forestry is the Scottish Government agency responsible for forestry policy, support and regulations and provides contact details for national and local offices.

Organisations such as the Small Woods Association and the ICF are also on hand to support woodland owners and arrange industry events which are ideal for networking.

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We’re keen to provide up-to-date, practical information about climate change adaptation and want to ensure the Climate Change Hub meets the changing needs of the forestry sector. Your feedback is invaluable and we would welcome your views.