Forestry and Global Climate Change

New Brunswick 2012


Global climate change is the defining issue of our time. The unrelenting rise in temperatures and the changes in the climate regimes around the world brings great uncertainty and a need for action.

Climate change represents a major threat to forestry as we practice it at the present time. It also presents a major opportunity to design and re-configure our managed forests. Trees and forest ecosystems are very effective at sequestering and storing carbon from the atmosphere. The expansion and restoration of forests will make a major contribution to mitigating the impact of industrialisation and population rise on the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This page contains a range of information relating to global climate change and potential impacts on forests. With all planning and mitigation there is a degree of uncertainty about future climate trajectories and impacts. Therefore, there is generally a push to increase the overall diversity of managed forests, by embracing a wider range of genetic resources, tree species, silvicultural systems. This general expected to enhance the ecological resilience of managed forest resources, reducing the overall threat from climate and other environmental threats, including introduced pests and diseases

Policy and guidance information has been published in several years by most forestry agencies, building on a significant and growing body of primary research and evidence. 

A selection of resources from Ireland and the UK are here: 


Adapting Scotland’s Forests for resilience and climate change

Five short films have been produced by Forestry Commission Scotland (now Scottish Forestry). They aim to show how climate change might affect Scotland’s forests, and give guidance on how to increase resilience to climate change threats.

This project was funded by ClimateXChange, the Scottish Government’s centre of expertise on climate change, through Heriot-Watt University. The films are hosted on YouTube.

Film 1: Forestry and climate change overview

Jo Ellis, of Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), describes how we can increase the resilience of Scotland’s forests to climate change.

Film 2: Extreme Weather

John Hair, Planning Manager for Forestry Commission Scotland, tells us how climate change could affect the occurrence of extreme weather events, and how we can create resilience to changing weather in Scotland’s forests.

Film 3: Biodiversity

Katy Anderson, Habitats Manager for Forestry Commission Scotland, describes how they are restoring habitats at the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park to increase biodiversity and create resilience to climate change.

Film 4: Pests and Diseases

Roger Moore, Entomologist at Forest Research (FR), explains how climate change might affect the vulnerability of our forests to pests and diseases, and how we can manage our forests to increase resilience.

Film 5: Forestry in a changing and uncertain climate

Bill Mason, Senior Silviculturist at FR, describes how we can manage Scotland’s forests in a changing and uncertain climate.


Ecological Site Classification (ESC 3) – ecological tool that supports species choice in a changing climate. A username and password are required to use the site. This is available free by contacting the Forest Research (see details on the ESC 3 homepage).


  • Effects of climate variability and change on forested ecosystems (US Forest Service), link here.
  • Combating climate change – a role for UK forests (UK Forestry Commission), link here.

Silviculture Research International



Page updated: 29 March 2020