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Tree species selection and climate change

Objectives: This mock case study uses UKCP09 dummy data to assess whether current tree species choice will remain appropriate with climate change by considering the risk of damaging threshold moisture deficits being exceeded. The study aims to assess if and where drought sensitive species such as Sitka spruce, are likely to be affected by high summer moisture deficits (moisture deficits exceeding 180 mm).

How they used UKCP09 dummy data

1. The impact of the change in future rainfall was calculated from the using the maps of UK summer rainfall for the time periods and Probability level specified. This data is available as CDF data through the User Interface.

2. As evaporation data was not supplied with the dummy data, the 1961-1990 baseline evaporation data was used to represent both the baseline and the future climate.

3. New maps were produced from a GIS analysis, and were used to show the future regional distribution of areas equal to or exceeding a moisture deficit of 180 mm.

4. The probability maps of moisture deficit were combined to show the distribution of the likelihood of areas considered too dry to plant drought sensitive tree species in the future climate.

Next steps

Using the resultant maps, forest managers could assess the degree of risk they are willing to accept in considering planting drought sensitive tree species for their area of management. Strategic forest planners could also use the information to guide incentives to encourage climate change adaptation in tree species choice and in alternative forest management systems.

Lessons learned

Spatially explicit maps of change are very effective in conveying important information to forest managers about the impacts of climate change and the urgency for adaptive management.

Find out more

  • Contact details: Duncan Ray, Ecology Division, Forest Research