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The climate in England is changing, and these changes will impact on England’s trees, woodland, and forests.
Many climate change impacts are already being observed in woodlands across the country; for example in the south-east oak typically comes into leaf a month earlier now than in the 1950’s.
The main climate change risks to England’s forests are summarised here, along with resources to support adaptation. We also provide information about England’s climate change policies, forest governance, and grant support.
The climate in England has already changed, with further changes projected. Seasonal rainfall patterns are changing, and temperatures are increasing, with hotter-drier summers and milder-wetter winters. Extreme weather events, including storms, drought, and flooding, are also becoming more frequent.
These changes in climate will have a range of impacts on forestry in England, including:
Forest Research provides an overview of climate change impacts and adaptation measures for England’s woodlands. Species suitability will change, and it is therefore important to consider the planting stock in adaptation to climate change. Information on species suitability under future climate scenarios is available on the Forest Research website for England alongside a climate matching tool.
In England, the Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodlands. It is a non-ministerial department supported by Forestry England, who manage the public forest estate, and Forest Research.
In 2019 The Forestry Commission published their first climate change and forestry position statement which explains the urgency of taking action in response to climate change and that planting and managing trees, forests and woodlands so that they are fit for the future is part of the nation’s response to climate change.
They have since produced climate change management guidance ‘Managing England’s woodlands in a climate emergency’. This guide provides practical advice to landowners on ways they can better manage their woodland to combat the effects of climate change.
The Forestry Commission’s guide Responding to the climate emergency with new trees and woodlands aims to help local authorities and landowning businesses achieve net zero.
The UK Government’s Second National Adaptation Programme outlines the actions the government and others will take to adapt to climate change. Net Zero Building Back Greener outlines the latest five-year carbon budget and longer-term vision for a decarbonized economy in 2050, as required under The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019.
Details about UK Government woodland grants and incentives is available from the Forestry Commission.