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Tom joined Forest Research as a PhD researcher in 2018 and now works for Forest Research as a Silviculture & Species Scientist. His current research focus is on investigating the potential for alternative and emerging tree species to adapt our forests to the challenges of a changing climate, using a network of both UK experiments and European experiments established under the REINFFORCE project. Tom’s research continues to focus heavily on understanding how resistant and resilient different species and communities are to drought and other extreme events, and how we can reliably operationalise resilience concepts. Tom currently co-leads the Forestry & Woodland Resilience to Drought (FORWaRD) project and is responsible for the delivery of WP2, which is using dendroecological methods to quantify the impact of past drought events on a range of native UK broadleaf species and species mixtures.

Tom completed his PhD at Stirling University in collaboration with Forest Research in 2022, the focus of which was on quantifying the resilience of Scots pine and Sitka spruce to drought in the UK. Before his PhD, Tom also completed a Masters in Environmental Forestry at the University of Bangor, which focused on forest habitat networks, reintroduction biology and dispersal ecology; his thesis project used eco-evolutionary, spatially explicit individual based modelling to improve the reintroduction success of large carnivores.

Prior to joining Forest Research, Tom has worked in a range of industries, including the private forest sector, counter fraud analytics, biosecurity, and conservation, both in the UK and New Zealand.


Chair of the British Ecological Society’s Forest Ecology Group

Member of the Association for Tree-ring Research

Member of the Royal Forestry Society

Member of the British Ecological Society

Associate of the Institute of Chartered Foresters

Scientist - Silviculture & Species
Silviculture and wood properties


Northern Research Station

Bush Estate



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


Assessing the resilience of UK forests to extreme climatic events

This project aims to quantify the historic impact and legacy of extreme climatic events on UK forests using tree-ring chronologies, climate and soil data. It focuses on species of major importance to UK forestry in order to provide the information basis for building adaptive capacity into future forest planning and decision-making.

Status current

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 […]

Peer reviewed journal articles

Buras, A., Ovenden, T., Rammig, A., Zang, C.S., 2022. Refining the standardized growth change method for pointer year detection: Accounting for statistical bias and estimating the deflection period. Dendrochronologia 74, 125964.

Ovenden, T.S., Perks, M.P., Forrester, D.I., Mencuccini, M., Rhoades, J., Thompson, D.L., Stokes, V.J. and Jump, A.S., 2022. Intimate mixtures of Scots pine and Sitka spruce do not increase resilience to spring drought. Forest Ecology and Management, 521, p.120448.

Ovenden, T.S., Perks, M.P., Clarke, T.-K., Mencuccini, M., Jump, A.S., 2021. Threshold Response to
Extreme Drought Shifts Inter-Tree Growth Dominance in Pinus sylvestris. Front. For. Glob. Chang. 4, 1–12.

Ovenden, T.S., Perks, M.P., Clarke, T‐K, Mencuccini, M, Jump, A.S. Life after recovery: Increased resolution of forest resilience assessment sheds new light on post‐drought compensatory growth and recovery dynamics. J Ecol. 2021; 00: 1– 14.  

Thompson, D.L., Ovenden, T.S., Pennycott, T., Nager, R.G., 2020. The prevalence and source of plastic incorporated into nests of five seabird species on a small offshore island. Mar Pollut Bull. 154:111076. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111076 

Ovenden, T.S., Palmer, S.C.F., Travis, J.M.J., Healey, J.R., 2019. Improving reintroduction success in large carnivores through individual-based modelling: How to reintroduce Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) to Scotland. Biol. Conserv. 234, 140–153. DOI:10.1016/j.biocon.2019.03.035 

Ovenden, T.S., 2019. The potential for lynx reintroduction to Scotland: Innovative modelling provides robust scientific evidence to inform decision-making. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.35390.84806 (Policy brief).