Managing trees and woodlands in the face of climate change threats
Trees and woodlands face a range of climate change threats, for example from increased drought, water-logging, fires, and changing pests and diseases. We explored current woodland management practices and how these may be affected by climate change.
Providing a range of benefits
While it's important to manage climate change threats, this isn't the only consideration when managing trees and woodlands, as trees are an important component of our wider green infrastructure and deliver a wide range of other benefits. One of these benefits is the well-documented link between the natural environment and mental health, and as part of ForeStClim, we focussed on developing the evidence base linking trees and woodlands to improvements in mental health and wellbeing through our Natural Health Service programme.
In some instances, there may be trade-offs between managing woodlands for specific benefits. Through this project, we've been able to test approaches to support management decisions where there may be competing aims, and use this to communicate the trade-offs with diverse stakeholders. For example, this work has fed into a revised management plan for the Sefton Coast woodlands.
Mitigating climate change and helping society adapt to its consequences
An important benefit of trees and woodlands is that they help to mitigate climate change and adapt society to its consequences. Our work has developed Wood Allotments, which provide a source of firewood for local communities, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating climate change.
We have also developed the Urban Catchment Forestry programme to promote the use of urban trees and woodlands to manage water quality and quantity, both challenges in a changing climate.
Throughout the project we have worked with the other ForeStClim partners from across Europe to learn from and share experiences and approaches. This has greatly strengthened the project. For example, The Mersey Forest is now "Climate Twinned" with Pays de Redon in Brittany, and area which projections suggest has a similar climate to what we may experience in the future.
Spreading the word
A key focus for the project was raising awareness about this work with different sectors and audiences. Many events and seminars were held to reach a range of audiences, from landowners to key decision-makers. We also engaged the wider community, including schools, businesses, community groups, and individuals, through tree planting and events. A number of photography exhibitions were staged as part of this ongoing communication.