Funding announced for new forest research

UK research into climate and pest resilient woodlands is set to boosted with the announcement of £16 million government funding.

Forestry Minister Rebecca Pow said, “Not only do we need to plant trees, for tomorrow, we also need to support their long-term protection from the host of threats they face due a changing climate.

“We are investing a further £16 million in vital research to help support the resilience of our trees and woodland as part of our ambitious plans to increase tree planting across the country.”

A Defra spokesperson said that Britain’s trees are facing unprecedented challenges from the impacts of climate change to an increased risk of tree disease and pests – including ips beetles, Dutch elm disease and ash dieback. These kinds of diseases threaten valuable habitats for thousands of species of wildlife.

This funding will support vital research into ways to mitigate and prevent these impacts, helping to protect woodlands and plant more trees in the long term.

It comes ahead of Environment Secretary Steve Barclay setting out plans this week to improve access to green space, including a competition for a new National Forest and the unveiling of two new Community Forests – in Derbyshire and the Tees.

The Forest Research programme will back 30 projects, working with 27 partner organisations. It will also support efforts to increase England’s tree canopy – one of the government’s key environment targets.

Projects benefiting from the funding include:

  • Studying the complex networks of soil nutrients and plant roots to see how they help boost woodlands.
  • Work to better understand how tree seeds can fall naturally and plant themselves
  • Developing our understanding of how drought is impacting tree growth
  • Examining the barriers to agroforestry, where trees and agricultural crops grow on the same piece of land

Professor James Pendlebury, Chief Executive, Forest Research said, “This is a significant and welcome investment in the forest science and evidence needed to underpin the creation of resilient woodlands and their future management and protection. It is also a huge investment in the next generation of forest scientists who will support the development of forests and woodlands fit for the future.

The Forest Research Trees and Forestry evidence programme aims to leave a lasting legacy, by providing strong scientific evidence to underpin the UK’s future forestry policy and support long term action for expanding and managing our treescapes.

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