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UK - DiversiTree: £500k awarded to increase UK woodland resilience
DiversiTree: £500k awarded to increase UK woodland resilience

The UK Research and Innovation has awarded £516,524 to DiversiTree, a collaborative project led by the James Hutton Institute, to investigate resilience across the country’s woodlands. Woods and forests account for more than 13% of the UK’s land surface, but the UK government’s ambition is to increase this to 17% as part of UK’s plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

In the right place, these new woodlands can also provide benefits such as reducing flooding and supporting biodiversity, however threats from climate change, pests and diseases may inhibit their ability to do so.

DiversiTree is a collaborative project between James Hutton Institute, Bangor University, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, RSPB, University of Birmingham and the Woodland Trust, and it will provide woodland managers with the knowledge and tools required to make our woods and forests more resilient.

This project will allow researchers to

• understand how woodland managers and other stakeholders understand diversity within woodlands, and what their ambitions are in relation to resilient future woods

• measure the impact of a diverse tree species mixture on the leaf microbiome and the potential impacts of this for resilience against pathogens

• understand how diversification of woods can increase the resilience of woodland ecosystem functions and the wider woodland biodiversity, such as birds, insects, mammals and plants.

• provide practical advice on the methods to, and the impacts of, diversifying tree species composition.

Dr Ruth Mitchell, an Ecologist at the James Hutton Institute and lead of the DiversiTree project said: “Climate change, pests and diseases are a threat to our UK woodlands. This funding is very welcome, as it will allow us to understand how woodland managers and other stakeholders understand woodland diversity, and their ambitions for future woods. From this, we can investigate the opportunities for diversification, and the positive impact it could have on resilience, biodiversity and ecosystem functions.”

DiversiTree is one of six projects to be awarded a share of £3million over the next two years from UK Research and Innovation. Each one will improve our understanding of the composition of treescapes in the UK, and their value to people and the planet. The research will also support the Government’s ambition to increase the size and number of woodlands across the country.

Source: Clark Communications .

Sep 2022


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