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Mike co-leads the £2.2M ‘Sustainable Forest Management in Light of Environmental Change’ (SFM) Programme for the Forest Research Science & Innovation Strategy. He also leads the climate impacts group at Northern Research Station, focussed on forestry for climate mitigation, including measurement and analysis of stand-scale carbon and GHG balance and drought response of forests. The group undertakes underpinning research on forest management impacts, including at the Conifer Forest Carbon & GHG research platform.
Mike leads the Forest Research contribution to major NERC funded research programmes PRAFOR [landscape scale drought impact estimates, led by CEH] and FORESIGHT [Beech response to drought in UK and Europe, led by Stirling University].

Mike joined Forest Research in 2001. He has worked for over 25 years on tree response to climate and environment. Previously Mike studied for a PhD in ‘Conifer Water Relations in Response to Drought’ at the University of Edinburgh (1994-1998), and postdoctoral research utilising ecophysiological approaches (particularly chlorophyll fluorescence) at University College Dublin (1998-2001). Mike has a BSc in Applied Ecology from John Moores University (1992), and an MSc (by Research) from University of Edinburgh (1994).


Mike is an Honorary Fellow, School of GeoSciences, Edinburgh University.
PhD supervision: Bertin, Beauchamp, Swain, Mackintosh, Leslie, Nair, Lonsdale, Davies, Mazzola (completed); Creber, Ovenden, Fletcher, Shield (in progress).

Forestry Staff Mike Perks.803521b6.fill 600x600 1

Mike Perks

PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons.)
Principal Scientist
Climate change

Forest Research

Northern Research Station


Midlothian EH25 9SY


Related Research


Forestry & Woodland Resilience to Drought (FORWaRD)

To inform ‘climate resilient forestry’ policy and management, understanding the drought response of UK tree species is crucial but remains largely unquantified. The Forestry & Woodland Resilience to Drought (FORWaRD) project will address these knowledge gaps by providing an integrated assessment of drought resilience for a variety of UK tree species across a range of temporal and spatial scales.

Status current


The potential for agroforestry to reduce net GHG emissions in Scotland through the Woodland Carbon Code

This research examines the potential of agroforestry to contribute to meeting greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets outlined in Scotland’s Climate Change Plan, and the economic viability of adopting agroforestry practices. It finds agroforestry has potential to sequester carbon and is generally financially viable, but benefits vary according to different factors.

Status completed

Related Publications


Intimate mixtures of Scots pine and Sitka spruce do not increase resilience to spring drought

Understanding how we can increase the resilience of forest systems to future extreme drought events is increasingly important as these events become more frequent and intense. Diversifying production forests using intimate mixtures of trees with complementary functional traits is considered as one promising silvicultural approach that may increase drought resilience. However, the direction and magnitude […]



How resilient are planted UK forests to drought? A summary of recent research on Sitka spruce and Scots pine.

As our climate warms, the pressures on global forest ecosystems from extreme climate events are expected to increase across much of the world (Anderegg et al., 2020; Brodribb et al., 2020). Of particular concern is the increasing threat to tree health and productivity posed by drought. Despite a predominantly cool maritime climate, forest ecosystems in […]

Threshold Response to Extreme Drought Shifts Inter-Tree Growth Dominance in Pinus sylvestris

Many studies quantify short-term drought impact on tree growth relative to pre-drought growth averages. However, fewer studies examine the extent to which droughts of differing severity differentially impact tree growth or shape stand dynamics. Focusing on three droughts in high and low density stands of Pinus sylvestris in Scotland, we calculated pre-drought growth averages using […]

Life after recovery: Increased resolution of forest resilience assessment sheds new light on post-drought compensatory growth and recovery dynamics

Understanding the impacts of extreme drought on forest productivity requires a comprehensive assessment of tree and forest resilience. However, current approaches to quantifying resilience limit our understanding of forest response dynamics, recovery trajectories and drought legacies by constraining the temporal scale and resolution of assessment. We compared individual tree growth histories with growth forecasted using […]

Comparison of the carbon, water, and energy balances of mature stand and clear-fell stages in a British Sitka spruce forest and the impact of the 2018 drought

Sitka spruce is the major conifer species in British upland forests and is predominantly managed as even-aged, single-species plantations with rotation lengths of less than 50 years using a “patch clear-felling” system. Evidence on the impact of clear-felling on the carbon, water and energy balances of plantation forestry is sparse and extreme weather events, such […]

Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) forests in Atlantic Europe: forest management approach and projected climate change

Mason, W.L. & Perks, M. (2011). Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) forests in Atlantic Europe: forest management approach and projected climate change. Scandinavian J. Forest Research. 26, 72-81.

Calibration and validation of a simplified process-based model for the prediction of the carbon balance of Scottish Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) plantations

Minunno, F., Xenakis, G., Perks, M.P. & Mencuccini, M. (2010). Calibration and validation of a simplified process-based model for the prediction of the carbon balance of Scottish Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) plantations. Canadian Journal Forest Research, 40, 2411-2426.

[Archive] An update on nursery propagation and establishment best practice for larch in Britain

This Information Note summarises the results of a series of experiments, including a synthesis of data from previous Forest Research publications, to provide information regarding recent advances in propagation of hybrid larch using cutting production systems.

Other Research

Other Projects

NERC GREENHOUSE Project (2013-2017) FR were partners in the NERC GHG Emissions and Feedback programme where we contributed to measurements of the effect of forest management on GHG emissions and uptake. The project title (Generating Regional Emissions Estimates with a Novel Hierarchy of Observations and Upscaled Simulation Experiments) looked at the emissions and uncertainties in their estimates as we scale up from point measurements on the ground to the UK scale and the atmosphere above it.

Mike chairs the Climate & Carbon Working Group of the Sustainable Forestry SCIO (previously the Scottish Forest Alliance). The Sustainable Forestry SCIO is a £10m BP led partnership, has undertaken to monitor forest uptake of carbon on its sites for 200 years. Mike leads the development of the Alliance climate science in understanding the role of these new native woodlands in carbon sequestration.

Mike leads for Forest Research on afforestation carbon and climate mitigation benefits for Climate eXchange Centre and has input to expert reviews on Scottish Soils and Carbon.

Mike was the Forest Research lead in a recent NERC Knowledge Exchange ‘Forest-Finance Risk Network’. The project developed a network aimed at providing a stable investment environment for forestry, through the assessment of risk to forest assets.

Mike led the Forest Research contribution to the recent update of the Scottish Government guidance for “Calculating Carbon Savings from Wind Farms on Scottish Peatlands – A New Approach” and improvements to the assessment tool Carbon Implications Of Windfarms Located On Peatlands – Update Of The Scottish Government Carbon Calculator Tool. The project was led by Dr Jo Smith (University of Aberdeen) and Forest Research contributed expertise on forest management, forest carbon and wind flow aspects.

For the Climate eXchange Centre, Mike is leading work on assessment of net deforestation due to windfarms.

Mike led the Forest Research contribution to The Ecosystem Land Use Modelling and Soil Carbon GHG Flux Trial (ELUM) project, a £3.28m study commissioned by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), to produce a framework for predicting the sustainability of bioenergy deployment across the UK.

Peer reviewed journal articles

Peer reviewed papers

Ovenden, T., Perks, M.P., Clarke ,T., Mencuccini, M. & Jump, A.S. 2021. Threshold response to extreme drought shifts inter-tree growth dominance and exceeds stand level buffering capacity. Frontiers in Forests & Global Change, Special Issue “Applications of Tree Rings in Altered Forests”

Mazzola, V., Perks, M., Smith, J., Yeluripati, J., Xenakis. G., 2021. Assessing soil carbon dioxide and methane fluxes from a Scots pine raised bog-edge-woodland. Journal of Environmental Management (in press).

Yamulki,S., Forster, J., Xenakis, G., Ash, A., Brunt, J., Perks, M., Morison, J.I.L. 2021. Effects of clearfell harvesting on soil CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes in an upland Sitka spruce stand in England. Biogeoscience, 18: 4227-424.

Xenakis, G., Ash, A., Siebicke, S.L., Perks, M., Morison, J.I.L. 2021. Comparison of the carbon, water, and energy balances of mature stand and clear-fell stages in a British Sitka spruce forest and the impact of the 2018 drought. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Volume 306, 108437.

Drewer, J., Yamulki, S., Leeson, S.R., Anderson, M., Perks, M.P., Skiba, U.M., McNamara, N.P. (2017). Difference in soil greenhouse gas fluxes from bioenergy crops SRC willow and SRF Scots pine compared with adjacent arable and fallow in a temperate climate. BioEnergy Research (in press).

Leslie, A.D., Mencuccini M, Perks M.P. (2017). A comparison of growth, leaf area, phenology and resource capture efficiency of four tree species in northern England. iForest (in press)

Vanguelova, E.I., Pitman, R., Benham, S., Perks M.P., Morison, J.I.L. (2017). Impact of Tree Stump Harvesting on Soil Carbon and Nutrients and Second Rotation Tree Growth in Mid-Wales, UK. Open Journal of Forestry, 7: 58-78.

Nair, R.K.F., Perks, M.P. & Mencuccini, M. (2016). Decomposition nitrogen is better retained than deposition nitrogen in a temperate forest. Global Change Biology doi:10.1111/gcb.13450

Dondini, M., Richards, M.I.A., Pogson, M., McCalmont, J., Drewer, J., Marshall, R., Morrison, R., Yamulki, S., Harris, Z.M., Alberti, G., Siebicke, L., Taylor, G., Perks, M.P., Finch, J., McNamara, N. P., Smith, J. U., & Smith, P. (2015). Simulation of greenhouse gases following land-use change to bioenergy crops using the ECOSSE model: a comparison between site measurements and model predictions. Global Change Biology Bioenergy [doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12298]

Nair, R.K.F., Perks, M.P., Weatherall, A., Baggs, E.M. & Mencuccini, M. (2015). Does canopy nitrogen uptake enhance carbon sequestration by trees? Global Change Biology, 22: 875-888. [doi:10.1111/gcb.13096]

Lonsdale, J., Xenakis, G., Mencuccini, M. & Perks, M.P. (2015). A comparison of models for quantifying growth and standing carbon in UK Scots pine forests. iForest-Biogeosciences and Forestry 8: 596-605.

Lonsdale, J., Minunno, F., Mencuccini, M. & Perks, M.P. (2015). Bayesian calibration and Bayesian model comparison of a stand level dynamic growth model for Sitka spruce and Scots pine. Forestry 88: 326-335.

Parmar, K., Keith, A.M., Rowe, R.L., Sohi, S.P., Moeckel, C., Keith, A.M., Rowe, R.L., Parmar, K., Perks, M.P., Mackie, E., Dondini, M., McNamara, N.P. (2015). Implications of land use change to Short Rotation Forestry in Great Britain for soil and biomass carbon. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 7: 541-552.

Dondini, M., Jones, E. O., Richards, M., Pogson, M., Rowe, R. L., Keith, A. M., Perks, M. P., McNamara, N. P., Smith, J. U., Smith, P. (2015). Evaluation of the ECOSSE model for simulating soil carbon under short rotation forestry energy crops in Britain. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 7: 527-540.

Harris, Z.M., McNamara, N.P. Rowe, R.L., Dondini, M., Finch, J., Perks, M.P., Morison, J.I.L., Donnison, I.S., Farrar, K., Sohi, S., Ineson, P., Oxley, J., Smith, P. & Taylor, G. (2014). Research Spotlight: The Elum Project: Ecosystem Land-Use Modeling And Soil Carbon GHG Flux Trial. Biofuels 5: 111-116.

Grace, J., Morison, J.I.L., Perks, M. P. (2014). Forests, Forestry and Climate Change. In: Challenges and Opportunities for the World’s Forests in the 21st Century. Ed: Fenning, T.M.Volume 81, Forest Sciences Series, Springer Verlag, Dordrecht, p241-266.

Leslie, A.D., Mencuccini, M. & Perks, M.P. (2014). Frost damage to eucalypts in a short-rotation forestry trial in Cumbria (England). iForest – Biogeosciences & Forestry 7: 156-161. [doi: 10.3832/ifor1161-007]

Leslie, A.D., Mencuccini, M., Purse J.G. & Perks, M.P. (2014). Results of a species trial of cold tolerant eucalypts in south west England. Q.J.For 108:18-27.

Nair, R.K.F., Weatherall, A., Perks, M.P. & Mencuccini, M. (2014). Stem injection of N-15-NH4NO3 into mature Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). Tree Physiology 34: 1130-1140.

Gentilesca, T., Vieno, M., Perks, M. P., Borghetti, M., Mencuccini, M. (2013). Effects of Long-Term Nitrogen Addition and Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition on Carbon Accumulation in Picea sitchensis Plantations. Ecosystems 16: 1310-1324.

Beauchamp, K., Mencuccini, M., Perks, M.P., Gardiner, B. (2013). The regulation of sapwood area, water transport and heartwood formation in Sitka spruce. Plant Ecology & Diversity 6: 45-56.

Morison, J., Matthews, R., Miller, G., Perks, M.P., Randle, T., Vanguelova, E., White, M. and Yamulki, S. (2012). Understanding the carbon and greenhouse gas balance of forests in Britain. Forestry Commission Research Report 18. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. 1–149pp.

Leslie, A.D., Mencuccini, M. & Perks, M.P. (2011). The potential for Eucalyptus as a wood fuel in the UK. Applied Energy 89: 176-182.

Bertin S., Palmroth, S., Kim, H.S., Perks, M.P., Mencuccini, M. & Oren, R. (2011). Modelling understorey light for seedling regeneration in continuous cover forestry canopies. Forestry 4: 397-410.

Mason, W.L. & Perks, M.P. (2011). Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) forests in Atlantic Europe: forest management approach and projected climate change. Scan. J. For. Res. 26: 72-81.

Guerierri, R., Mencuccini, M., Sheppard, L.J., Saurer, M., Perks, M.P., Levy, P., Sutton, M.A., Borghetti, M. & Grace, J. (2011). The legacy of enhanced N and S deposition as revealed by the combined analysis of δ13C, δ18O and δ15N in tree rings. Global Change Biology 17: 1946-1962.

Minunno, F., Xenakis, G., Perks, M.P. & Mencuccini, M. (2010). Calibration and validation of a simplified process-based model for the prediction of the carbon balance of Scottish Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) plantations. Canadian Journal Forest Research 40: 2411-2426.

Bertin, S.B., Perks, M.P., Straw, N., Bertin, J.M. & Mencuccini, M. (2010). Green spruce aphid infestations cause larger growth reductions to Sitka spruce under shade. Tree Physiology 30: 1403-1414.

Harper, R.C., O’Reilly, C. and Perks, M.P. (2010) Rapidly detecting the effects of warm storage stress on Douglas fir seedlings. Plant Biosystems 144: 769-777.

Swain E.Y., Perks, M.P., Vanguelova, E.V. & Abbot, G.D. (2010). Carbon stocks and phenolic distributions in peaty gley soils afforested with Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). Organic Geochemistry 41: 1022-1025.

Butler, A.J., Barbier, N., Cermak, J., Koller, J., Thornily, C. McEvoy, C., Nicoll, B., Perks, M.P., Grace, J. & Meir, P. (2010). Estimates and relationships between aboveground and belowground resource exchange surface areas in a Sitka spruce managed forest. Tree Physiology 30: 705-714.


Bealey, W.J., Braban, C.F., Theobald, M.R., Famulari, D., Tang, Y.S., Wheat, A., Grigorova, E., Leeson, S.R., Twigg, M.M., Dragosits, U., Dore, A.J., Sutton, M.A., Nemitz, E., Loubet, B., Robertson, A., Quinn, A.D., Williams, A., Sandars, D.L., Valatin, G., Perks, M.P., Watterson, D. (2015). Agroforestry Systems for Ammonia Abatement. DEFRA & CEH_NERC Final Report AC0201. [DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4934.1042]

Morison, J., Matthews, R., Miller, G., Perks, M.P., Randle, T., Vanguelova, E., White, M., & Yamulki, S. (2012). Understanding the carbon and greenhouse gas balance of forests in Britain. Forestry Commission Research Report, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh, 149pp.

Morison, J., Vanguelova, E., Broadmeadow, S., Perks, M.P., Yamulki, S., & Randle, T. (2012). Understanding the GHG implications of forestry on peat soils in Scotland. Forestry Commission Research Report, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh, 55pp.

Smith, J.U., Perks, M.P., Gardiner, B.G., Graves, P., Nayak, D.R., Xenakis, G., Waldron, S., & Drew, S. (2011). Carbon Implications of Windfarms Located on Peatlands: Updated Scottish Government Carbon Calculator Tool.

Mason, W.L., Nicoll, B.C., & Perks, M.P. (2009). Mitigation potential of sustainably managed forests. In: Read, D.J., Freer-Smith, P.H., Morison, J.I.L, Hanley, N., West, C.C., and Snowdon, P. (eds.). Combating Climate Change – a role for UK forests. An assessment of the potential of the UK’s trees and woodlands to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh. Pages 100-118.

Knowledge exchange

Xenakis, G., Perks, M.P., Harris, Z.M., McCalmont, J.P., Rylett, D., Brroks, M., Evans, J.G., Finch, J., Rowe, R.L., Morrison, R., Alberti, G., Donnison, I., Siebicke, L., Morison, J.I.L., Taylor, G. & McNamara, N.P. (2016). Net ecosystem exchange from five land-use transitions to bioenergy crops from four locations across the UK. EGU Conference Poster.

Toet, S., Keane, B., Yamulki, S., Blei, E., Gibson-Poole, S., Xenakis, G., Perks, M.P., Morison, J.I.L., Ineson, P. (2016). Upscaling of greenhouse gas emissions in upland forestry following clearfell. EGU Conference Paper.

Keane, B., Perks, M.P., Morison, J.I.L. & Blei, E. (2015). Greenhouse gas emissions from a clear-felled upland forest: high frequency measurements reveal importance of topographical features to landscape fluxes. BES Annual Meeting Conference Paper.

Harris, Z.M., Bottoms, E., Massey, A., McCalmont, J., Yamulki, S., Drewer, J., McNamara, N.M., Finch, J., Donnison, I., Perks, M.P., Smith, P. & Taylor, G. (2013). First results from the UK network to establish the greenhouse gas balance of land conversion to second generation bioenergy willow, Miscanthus and short rotation forestry. EGU Conference Poster.

McNamara, N.M., Bottoms, E., Donnison, I., Dondini, M., Farrar, K., Finch, J., Harris, Z.M., Ineson, P., Keane, B., Massey, A., McCalmont, J., Morison, J.I.L., Perks, M.P., Pogson, M., Rowe, R., Smith, P., Sohi, S., Tallis, M., Taylor, G. & Yamulki, S. (2013). Bioenergy Ecosystem Land-Use Modelling and Field Flux Trial. EGU Conference Paper. October 2013.

University of Edinburgh BSc “Forest Mitigation – delivering carbon benefits”. September 2013.

University of Glasgow Carbon MSc “Forestry ~ mitigation and adaptation”.

Oct 2012. Stump harvesting and carbon sequestration in Norway spruce stand: life cycle perspective. IFURO Conference ‘Managing Forests for Ecosystem Services’. Delivered on behalf of University of Eastern Finland.

Mar 2012. Scottish Forest Alliance Native Woodland Carbon Benefits: where we are, where were going & what we need to do. SFA Site managers meeting.

Perks, M.P., Gardiner, B.A. & Smith, J.U. (2011). Balancing turbine and woodland benefits. Forestry & Timber News, p18-19.

Nov 2011. Forest Mitigation – delivering carbon benefits. iCARB Forestry Workshop, Edinburgh. Invited keynote speaker.

Nov 2011. Forestry management as a tool for climate mitigation & adaptation. U.o.Glasgow (Dumfries Campus).

Sep 2011. Wind, Turbines & Trees: maximising net benefit in Forestry Settings. ECRR Directors.

Sep 2011. Short Rotation Forestry as a tool for climate mitigation. CEH Lancaster.

April 2011. Forestry as a tool for climate mitigation: maximising the benefits in the UK. U.o.Glasgow (Dumfries Campus).

Mar 2011. Wind, Turbines & Trees: maximising net benefit in upland Forestry Settings. FCS Conservators Update.

Jan 2011. Wind, Turbines & Trees: maximising net benefit in upland Forestry Settings. NERC KE CLAD Workshop, Glasgow.

Nov 2010. Making Scotland’s Landscape. (interview as expert for BBC Science Series) presented by Prof Iain Stewart. Appeared in 3 minute section discussing scientific assessment of forestry benefits for climate mitigation. BBC SCOTLAND & BBC2 release.

Nov 2010. Wind, Turbines & Trees: maximising net benefit in Forestry Settings. FR Research Update.

Nov 2010. Woodland carbon – managing the benefits. FR Research Update.

Nov 2010. Sustainable Forest Management: impacts of soil carbon disturbance. Societe Forestières CDC (France – visiting group)

Sep 2010. Forest Carbon Sequestration: managing mitigation benefits. IAgrE FEG Symposium

June 2010. Carbon Sequestration Benefits of New Native Woodland Expansion in Scotland. 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference.