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The impacts of climate change

8 The impacts of climate change

Managing to reduce potential impact

A recent consideration for the woodland manager is managing for the potential impacts of climate change, on both the woodland itself and the biodiversity it supports. Although the impacts of climate change are still being researched, it is apparent that management to reduce the impact of change needs to be implemented now. In general, larger woodlands, buffered by non-intensively managed land will be more likely to withstand the impacts of climate change for longer than smaller, isolated woodlands. Increasing the sizes of woodlands, increasing functional connectivity between woodland habitats and reducing the intensity of management on surrounding land should be a major consideration for woodland mangers. To maintain species within the woodland there will be a need to increase the level of management and provision of features that provide the nesting and foraging resources in an attempt to make the populations as robust as possible. A final consideration may well be how to move populations from one woodland area to another, but it

is still unclear what the best method of achieving this may be. The joining of woodlands through linear features (connectivity) appears to have limited benefits for moving birds through the landscape, and increasing woodland size, establishing new woodlands, and reducing the intensity of management between woodlands may be more beneficial. However, when considering any initiative aimed at developing an ecological network to allow movement of species between woodland areas it is essential to have clear species-specific objectives. This will ensure all required habitat components for those species are provided and allow a more rigorous evaluation of success.

Climate change might also affect the types of woodland that will flourish in the future and current management needs to have a clear strategy for adaptation in the future. It is considered genetic and species diversity is key parts of that future. Woodland managers should refer to the FCW website for guidance on climate change adaptation at: www.forestresearch.gov.uk/ climatechange.


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