Climate hub aims to ensure net zero efforts recognise the woods from the trees

The UK has set up a climate hub in an effort to better manage its forests and woodlands.

The UK government has said the move comes as it believes trees and improved woodland management are key in both adapting to climate change and reaching its goal of Net Zero by 2050.

A new online Climate Change Hub centralises information on forestry and climate change adaptation, to ensure the country’s woodlands are “fit for the future”.

The Climate Change Hub was launched by Defra, Forest Research, Scottish Forestry and Welsh Government, will be managed by Forest Research, to centralise and distil the latest information and UKFS (United Kingdom Forestry Standard) guidance on climate change adaptation to encourage uptake of adaptive practice by forest and woodland owners and managers. It will provide concise information about risks from the changing climate, how to identify suitable adaptation measures and examples of how other managers are implementing adaptive practice.

“The projected rate of climate change is unprecedented, from warmer summers to more frequent extreme conditions such as drought periods and heavy rainfall events,” Defra explained. “Action is needed now to improve the resilience of forests and woodlands, and to protect the benefits that they provide, including carbon sequestration.”

Forestry minister Trudy Harrison said: “Trees and tree management are crucial parts of our plan to reach Net Zero by 2050, and resources such as the Climate Change Hub support the forest industry to make better, more informed and ultimately more sustainable decisions when it comes to tree planting and woodland management.”

Defra explained there is no single recommended approach to climate change adaptation, as each woodland has different objectives and conditions. To enable managers to make informed decisions for their own woodlands, the Climate Change Hub also includes detailed guidance through the decision-making process, step-by-step, including information about the online tools available to support risk management and species choice.

The CEO of the Forestry Commission, Richard Stanford added: “Climate change will affect our trees, wood and forests.  We need to ensure that our management practices ensure they thrive for the long term to ensure all the benefits they provide are maximised.  Trees are a critical part of our endeavours to tackle climate change; trees are the most efficient and cost-effective method of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Climate Change Hub will allow all of us to see this critical information in one place for the first time, enabling land managers and foresters to make the best decisions for our planet on tree and forest management.”

Under the scheme woodland owners are encouraged to plant and manage more diverse and resilient woodlands of varying ages and species in the face of climate change. To counter future extreme weather risks from severe storms to drought, forests and woodlands should have a broad range of trees at different ages, from seedlings to trees to vary the size of our trees. Larger, more mature trees are more susceptible to severe winds than younger trees, so promoting the growth of trees of varying ages helps to strengthen their collective resilience.

Wales’ minister for Climate Change, Julie James, said: “This project will provide up-to-date research and guidance that will help the forestry sector and woodland planners plant and manage woodland in a flexible way.

“It’s another key project that will help us in Wales meet our Net Zero commitments and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.”

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