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Climate Change

Woodland owners have always managed risk and uncertainty, but the pace and scale of environmental change experienced over the past 25 years and expected over the next 50 years presents a challenge of an altogether different order of magnitude.

In 2020 we published our position on climate change - Forestry and Climate Change - which recognises planting alone is not the key to climate change mitigation. Take a look here or download right. We will continue to press for the development of timber markets, flexibility in species choice and investment in research and in the skills and knowledge needed to ensure that climate change mitigation measures really work.

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In 2018 the Forestry Climate Change Working Group unveiled its Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation of forests, woods and trees in England - see below. One year on a Progress Report has been published highlighting the added urgency for adaptation. Both can be downloaded right.  


Our Woodland Are Changing: RFS Insight Survey 2018

To help us support owners developing woodland that is future proofed and fit for their own management objectives, we carried out a short Insight Survey among members who are landowners, managers or other woodland professionals.

We asked whether they are planting more diverse species now than five years ago, and if so what their experiences were in sourcing them.

Almost 50% of respondents are already planting a wider range of tree species than just five years ago; of those who are not, more than 63% are actively considering including more species and 14% said they would not be doing so; more than 60 tree species were named as being planted.

The report identifes more needs to be done:

  • To make evidence-based species selection and sourcing easier
  • To overhaul restrictions placed by grants on species selection
  •  Match nursery supply and demand
  •  Bridge gaps between end users

Read the full report here or download right


Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation of forests, woods and trees in England

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The Forestry Climate Change Working Group (FCCWG), chaired by RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd, has published an action plan for key issues which need to be urgently addressed by foresters, landowners and all who care about our woodlands.

FCCWG is tasked with driving forward The Climate Change Accord which was signed by 35 forestry organisations in 2015. The Group’s report Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation of forests, woods and trees in England recognises that climate change is having far-reaching impacts on the health and resilience of our trees and woods. Read the full report here or download right

Key issues

  • Not enough woodland is being planted to enhance resilience at a landscape scale.
  • Lack of management in many woodlands is hindering implementation of adaptation measures e.g. opportunities for natural regeneration (which can assist adaptation) are being reduced by deer browsing and the closed canopy structure of many woods.
  • New tree planting is not using sufficient quantities of genetically-diverse and/or appropriate stock, potentially limiting adaptive potential.
  • Nurseries are not providing a wide enough range of tree species of sufficient and appropriate genetic diversity.
  • The sector is not embracing contingency planning.
  • Low level of restocking is hindering implementation of adaptation measures.
  • Limited uptake of continuous cover approaches to management.
  • Forest planning and design is not taking account of climate change impacts and projections.
  • Lack of clarity on what adaptation measures are available and appropriate.
  • Lack of knowledge sharing of adaptation practices.
  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD) opportunities difficult to identify and access.
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