Converting planted non-native conifer to native woodlands: a review of the benefts, drawbacks and experience in Britain
Lead Author: Nadia Barsoum
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Lead Author: Nadia Barsoum
Planted forests of non-native conifers make up around 36% of Britain’s total wooded area. Increasing the area of native woodlands – including converting non-native conifer to native woodland where appropriate – is an aim of the UK Forestry Standard Guidelines on Biodiversity. It is unclear how much conversion is being implemented, what the motivations might be, or how it is achieved in practice. This study used literature review and questionnaire-based approaches to explore the benefits and drawbacks of conversion, and also to evaluate the attitudes towards, and experiences of, conversion. A majority of respondents are currently, or planning to be, engaged in converting non-native conifer forest management units to native woodland. A range of methods are practised, which aim towards either partial or complete conversion. The level of effort and cost required for conversion varies with local site conditions and/or the proximity of native woodland from which colonisation processes can occur. Some managers whose primary objective is timber production are concerned that conversion will result in a reduction in levels of productivity, which leads to a reluctance to pay for the process of conversion, especially where competition, herbivory and biosecurity threats to native tree species are a potential issue. In contrast, those managers whose primary objective is conservation appear prepared to invest time and resources converting their woodlands. However, many woodland managers are reluctant to undertake large-scale conversion without more guidance and evidence of the benefits.
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