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Forest innovation to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies

Bradwell, Jo and Foyer, Christine and MacKenzie, Rob (2022) Forest innovation to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergencies. Working Paper. University of Birmingham .

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Identification Number/DOI: 10.25500/epapers.bham.00004044



• Planting mixed woodland enhances tree growth and productivity. Mixed woodland plantations should, therefore, play a key role enabling the UK to meet its 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets.

• Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations (eCO2) increase photosynthesis, which is necessary (but not in itself sufficient) for increased carbon storage in forests. Remote sensing data have revealed an increased greening of the earth over the last 20 years that is largely due to greater leaf area in forests. Such findings demonstrate that UK forests are effective in carbon uptake in the future, as well as improving soil health.

• Undisturbed forests eventually reach carbon balance. They may continue to provide long-term carbon draw-down and storage by building ‘recalcitrant’ soil carbon. To secure and enhance long-term draw-down and storage in the forest canopy above ground, wood products must be taken from the forest and stored long term. Hence, woodland planning must incorporate harvesting for timber and other wood products in order to contribute to long-term carbon budgeting, biodiversity enhancement, and the delivery of societal benefits.

• Current afforestation and forest management regulations and guidelines are innovation-averse and highly vulnerable to globalised disease and climate risks. Neither the Nature for Climate Fund1, nor the ongoing series of UK Carbon Budgets2, provide the space for innovation to manage these risks.

• Private actors are pathfinding recolonisation and silvicultural portfolio approaches to increase resilience and manage social risks such as ‘carbon colonialism’.

• Choosing forest-facing post-16, apprenticeship, and degree training is a direct route to climate action for UK school leavers but this case is not being made to them.

• Forest-facing education is tarnished by outmoded and educationally indefensible caricatures of practice-based learning (cf. medicine or veterinary science), severely hindering One Health responses to the climate and nature emergencies and the pandemic.

• The benefits of woodland creation are inherently context-dependent, and sensitive to what tree species are used. For example, as sources of nitrogen pollution come under control in the UK, adding nitrogen fixing tree species will enhance woodland carbon sequestration rates under most circumstances.

Type of Work:Monograph (Working Paper)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Number of Pages:6
Department:The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR), School of Biosciences, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information:

A UoB/BIFoR White Paper arising from the Conference titled: “Trees for the Future - Diversity and complexity for resilience and carbon storage”, held at the University of Birmingham, UK on 03-04 November 2021

Please cite as: Foyer C.H., MacKenzie A.R. and Bradwell J.A. 2022, Forest Innovation to tackle the Climate and Biodiversity Emergencies. White Paper. DOI: 10.25500/epapers.bham.00004044 © 2022 The Authors. Re-use permitted under CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Date:May 2022
Projects:ARMK acknowledges funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NE/S015833/1)
Keywords:mixed woodlands, mixed forests, forests, woodlands, forestry, tree growth, carbon sequestration, climate change, diversity, diversification, genetic diversification, tree planting, afforestation, overyielding, phytosanitary
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
S Agriculture > SD Forestry
Related URLs:
https://www.aab.org.uk/pdf/november-2021/ UNSPECIFIED
https://www.aab.org.uk/ Organisation
https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/bifor/index.aspx Organisation
Funders:The JABBS Foundation
Copyright Status:© 2022 The Authors. Re-use permitted under CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
ID Code:4044

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