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Working together to adapt to a changing climate

posted on September 20, 2018

Actions to address significant gaps in forestry policy, research and practice are necessary to deal with the unprecedented pace and scale of environmental change, say forestry organisations launching a new action plan today at APF Exhibition, the UK’s largest forestry show.

Action plan for climate change adaptation of forests, woods and trees in England

Action plan for climate change adaptation of forests, woods and trees in England

Climate change is threatening the health of trees and woods and requires a co-ordinated response to help them adapt and become resilient to its current and projected impacts. A significant group of public and private organisations have identified 13 priority actions and pledged to work together on them over the next five years.

The “Action plan for climate change adaptation of forests, woods and trees in England” was prepared by the Forestry Climate Change Working Group (FCCWG), which represented the 35 organisations who signed a Forestry Climate Change Accord in 2015. Sylva Foundation took a lead role in supporting the creation of the Climate Change Accord, later running workshops which helped to develop the action plan, and then the drafting of the plan itself. Much of the evidence for the action plan arose from recent British Woodland Surveys, particularly BWS2015, which rely on the goodwill of thousands of private woodland owners, foresters and businesses, who shared information about their awareness, actions, and aspirations.

The 13 priority actions address major gaps in current forestry policy, research and practice and are the result of a rigorous process of consultation carried out over the last three years, and are consistent with Defra’s Tree Health Resilience Strategy published earlier this year. The plan also recognises that, in the face of climate change, many traditional forest and woodland management practices need to be revised. Some of the gaps identified include: lack of woodland management by owners; insufficient diversity of planting stock from nurseries; limited uptake of silvicultural practices which limit risk; and, the need for better education and information.

Launching the plan at the APF Exhibition on behalf of the FCCWG, Sir Harry Studholme, Chair of Forestry Commission England said:

Our forests, woodlands and trees are already facing unprecedented challenges from environmental change and the changes will continue. The impacts of this will alter the ecology, the appearance and the management needs of these woods and forests.  We have to adapt because if we do not the costs will be paid by all of us for generations to come. That is why I welcome the launch of this plan to drive forward a truly collaborative response by the forestry sector. It is a remarkable achievement that such a wide range of organisations have been able to agree actions that should ensure our legacy will be of woodlands resilient to the changes they face.

Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, commented:

“So much of our work at Sylva is about creating and using evidence to help others make wise decisions about the future of our trees and woodlands. At a strategic level, little of this counts unless there is significant agreement among all stakeholders about what actions should be taken and by who. It has been a privilege to have supported, and witnessed, the coming together of the forestry sector in such an unprecedented way. We hope the resulting action plan will support positive change in policy, practice, and research over the coming five years and beyond.

 Download the Action Plan (pdf)


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Adapting to climate change

posted on October 16, 2017

Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery reports on significant progress made in bringing the English forestry sector together to ensure that forestry practice, and our trees and forests, will adapt effectively to climate change.

UKFS and climate change adaptation

UKFS and climate change adaptation

The challenges we face in the light of climate change are familiar to us all, in every area of society. In relation to our trees and forests, and within the forestry sector, it is well-accepted that we need to take action to adapt to a changing climate. The UKFS (see box right) clearly articulates key measures we should be implementing, but how well are we meeting the challenge?

Willingness and Evidence

Two seminal moments during 2015 kick-started positive action relating to climate change adaptation in England. The first was the signing of the Climate Change Accord, ‘A call for resilient forests, woods and trees’, by more than 30 organisations. It states:

“We believe that it is necessary to act now to provide a secure future for our forests, woods and trees, that significant changes are required to widely-accepted and practiced systems of management to make them resilient, and we are committed to help realise the vision set out in this Accord.”

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

The second moment was the response by 1,500 stakeholders to a national survey concerning ‘awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community relating to climate change’. Responses to the 2015 British Woodlands Survey indicated that the resilience of the UK’s forests is currently poor, although there are a number of positive aspects which could be built upon. The report concluded that collaboration across the sector was required, with responsibilities shared between the many interests. It also identified that risks need to be more clearly communicated to stakeholders, together with firmer, tailored, guidance on addressing these risks.

Together these two moments secured both the willingness to collaborate strategically, and the evidence necessary to measure progress towards meeting the adaptation measures in the UKFS. The next step was to build on these by agreeing what actions needed to be taken.

Taking action

A small group of interested parties came together under the auspices of the ‘Forestry and Climate Change Working Group’ (FCCWG). During 2016 the FCCWG started working towards an Action Plan for the forestry sector. It has been following a simple five-step approach:

  1. What should we be doing to support adaptation to climate change?    UKFS Adaptation Factors
  2. How do our actions measure up?    British Woodlands Survey 2015
  3. What is being done currently?    Organisations submit evidence to FCCWG during 2016/17
  4. What could we do better (or less of)?
  5. Priorities: what we need to do, by whom, by when?

 

Steps 1-3 formed the basis of a Draft Action Plan (see Read More), yet to address the important steps of what we should improve, and our priorities for taking action, it was necessary to convene a stakeholder workshop. At a meeting held on 11th October 2017—hosted by Forest Research at Alice Holt Lodge—senior representatives from 24 organisations (see box) gathered to devise strategies to tackle steps 4 and 5.

With thanks to delegates representing:

BIFOR, Confor, Deer Initiative, Egger, Euroforest, Forest of Marston Vale, Forest Research, Forestry Commission England, Forest Enterprise England, Future Trees Trust, Grown in Britain, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Lockhart Garratt, Martin Glynn, National Forest, National Trust, Natural England, Royal Forestry Society, Small Woods, Sylva Foundation, Tubex, Tilhill Forestry, Woodland Heritage, Woodland Trust.

After an opening address by Forestry Commission Chairman Sir Harry Studholme, an introduction to the FCCWG by its Chairman Simon Lloyd (Chief Executive, Royal Forestry Society), and an overview of the changes ahead from James Morison (Climate Change Science Group Leader, Forest Research), delegates were soon hard at work. Gabriel Hemery and Gill Petrokofsky, both from Sylva Foundation, managed the café-style brainstorming. Small groups tackled each of the 18 UKFS factors in turn, identifying priorities for action over the next five years.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

 

Next steps

Over the next few months the FCCWG will be reviewing the outcomes of the October workshop. We aim to publish, in early 2018, an Action Plan for Forestry and Climate Change Adaptation. We intend this to be a rolling five-year plan, which will be reviewed annually to assess how well the sector is progress in meeting the agreed actions. Given the degree of commitment shown by organisations to date, we are confident that the actions will be widely adopted and responsibilities shared among stakeholders.

The FCCWG is keen to hear from those who may be interested in being actively involved in its work. In particular, we are aware that the interests of tree nurseries, timber processors, and urban forestry are under-represented.

Ultimately, we are hopeful that the unprecedented collaboration across the sector, together with the sound evidence behind its collective action, will help ensure that the Action Plan is embraced by forestry policy-makers, will influence the commissioning of relevant research, and will empower practitioners to take action.

Read more:

Dr Gabriel Hemery FICFor is Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, and a member of the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group.


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Forest reproductive material and climate change

posted on March 9, 2016

Forest owners, managers and policy-makers may remain unaware of the potential that the use of forest genetic resources offers for facilitating the adaptation of forests to climate change. We summarise the latest guidelines for foresters in England.

Forestry Horizons Occasional Paper, No.1

Forestry Horizons Occasional Paper, No.1

A working group of European Forest Genetic Programme (EUFORGEN) recently considered the use and transfer of forest reproductive materials or FRM in the context of the challenges of climate change. They examined scientific research on provenance and adaptation, including several case studies of transfer, the existing regulatory framework and recent policy developments, guidelines on FRM transfer and their scientific basis, and future challenges and opportunities.

Forestry Commission England asked the Forestry Horizons think-tank to consider this evidence and highlight practical information of importance to foresters. With the addition of specific geographic and policy advice the paper has been made particularly relevant to the forestry sector in England.

You can view the paper in the Forestry Horizons online library, where it can be downloaded for free.


Citation:

Hemery, G. (2016). Use and transfer of forest reproductive material in England in the context of climate change. Forestry Horizons Occasional Paper, No.1. 5pp. www.forestryhorizons.eu ISSN 2053-3241

 


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Case studies highlight best practice for forest resilience

posted on September 15, 2014
Climate Change Award 2014 case studies

Climate Change Award 2014 case studies

Following the successful launch by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) of the Woodland Climate Change Award in 2014, a series of case studies have been released by the RFS. The award was supported by the Sylva Foundation, whose CEO Gabriel Hemery acted as judge and authored the case studies.

The case studies can be downloaded here


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SilviFuture grows

posted on March 14, 2014
SilviFuture coverage March 2014

SilviFuture coverage March 2014

SilviFuture – the network promoting novel forest species – continues to go from strength to strength. The number of records of stands of trees stands at 873 today.

Many of these records have been provided by government research agency Forest Research, supported by Forestry Commission England, Forestry Commission Scotland and Natural Resources Wales. ClimateXChange supported the collection of data in Scotland and a short promotional film (see below).

The project partners are keen that more private woodland owners share information about stands of unusual or novel forest species. Why not visit the website to learn more about the project and how you could help shape a resilient future for Britain’s forests?

www.SilviFuture.org.uk


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Share your thoughts and experiences on novel forest tree species

posted on February 20, 2014
SilviFuture - comments

SilviFuture – comments

As part of a number of developments to the SilviFuture network we have added a facility to allow people to share their thoughts and experiences on novel forest tree species.

Commenting tools are provided for each of the 69 species currently listed in the database. The commenting tool is presented on each page dedicated to a specific species, thereby focussing discussion on that species. They are also brought together on a single comments page so that readers can easily view the latest comments from contributors.

We encourage everyone with some experience in growing these species to share it with other woodland owners and managers. Feel free also to share information about a species that you may have read or seen.

 


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SilviFuture – a network for novel forest species is launched

posted on September 12, 2013
SilviFuture - a network promoting novel forest species

SilviFuture – a network promoting novel forest species. Click to visit the website.

A new network established to promote and share knowledge about novel forest species across Britain has been launched today. SilviFuture has been created by a partnership between Forestry Commission, Forest Research, Silvanus Trust and the Sylva Foundation. It aims to help promote information about trees and forest stands of less common or so-called ‘minor’ species.

At its heart is a website and database that enables woodland owners and forestry professionals to add, search and share information about more than seventy tree species, many of which are less well-known or tested in Britain.

It will support:

  • finding and sharing information on the silviculture of novel tree species. Some of these may prove more resilient to a changing climate or pests and diseases, and provide valuable products for future markets.
  • exploring a database to learn about tree growth, stand management, where certain species grow well in the country, and even successes in their marketing. The database combines research data with real-life growing experience.

Information on the growing potential and end uses of these species is provided, together with geographic information on forest locations in Britain. Forest Research have added data to the database, gathered from decades of research in field trials for many of these species. All the data can be interrogated on a web-based database, complete with maps and further information.

The database will be updated continually and can be searched by species or location to allow those thinking of planting new species to fully evaluate the options, and for researchers to see how species are performing across a range of locations. Future developments will include photo uploads and commenting tools.

Woodland owners and forestry professionals are encouraged to register and upload information. The network has been launched today at the Confor woodland show on September 12th at the Royal Forestry Society stand.

www.silvifuture.org.uk


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