Climate threat to Forest oaks

By Sharon Nixon   |   social media executive   |
Wednesday 4th March 2020 12:36 pm
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OAK trees planted in the Forest of Dean in the last five years may not survive into the next century unless there is urgent action to mitigate climate change.

And the Forest could become ‘borderline’ for the iconic trees within a generation, said the head of Forestry England in the Dean, Kevin Stannard.

Mr Stannard, the Deputy Surveyor of the Forest of Dean, was speaking at a forum discussing biodiversity management hosted by Dyrfa – Dymock Forest Rural Action – at Kempley village hall on Friday (February 28).

He said: “I’m challenging you to think about the way forward given that the future climate isn’t going to be the same.

“Trees planted today will have a very different climate in 100 years’ time.

“The key is to get society to understand that working with nature is a way for us to evolve more sustainably as the climate changes.

“We have to plant the right tree in the right place for the right

reason.

“Every tree species does something slightly differently: some are good at taking soil pollution out, some are good at filtering pollution in the atmosphere.

“Every tree has a purpose in the structure of the landscape but it is not as simple as planting native

(species).

“Our changing climate demands thought, innovation, foresight and above all action.

“We have to do something now because in 10, 20, 30, 40 years it will be too late.”

He said computer modelling by scientists at Forest Research inicated that the Dean could be “borderline” for growing oaks and that oak planted in 2015 may struggle to reach the year 2100.

“The ecological site classification tool used by Forest Research shows green for everywhere that is suitable for sessile oaks.

“In 2050 it (the Dean) is becoming borderline.”

Speaking of the oaks which were planted recently he said: “In 2100 those oak trees will be 85 years old.

“These trees will be in a location that is unsuitable for sessile oak.

“If you look at oak now, a lot are suffering.

“There are biotic factors (pests) but climate change is there in the background.

“Gradually the oak we have in the landscape will be suffering increasingly and dying.

“Those oaks may not get to 85-years-old because they have been killed off by our changing climate or things associated with our changing climate.”

For more on this story see pages 16 and 17.

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