How can forests help?

As well as their important role in sequestering carbon, healthy thriving forests can help Scotland to deal with some of the risks and uncertainties that a changing climate brings.

The following resources are intended to help you to target your plans for woodland creation and management so that they complement the plans of others, which may increase opportunities for funding and/or other support, as well as increasing the benefit that your woodlands provide to you and to others.

Forest habitat networks

Many woods in Scotland are very small in scale and highly fragmented, and this makes them, and the biodiversity within them, vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Forest habitat networks link woodlands, old and new, to form a more continuous woodland cover than at present, which can increase woodland resilience. Information about forest habitat networks, and links to maps of where these networks would most beneficially be established, are available on the Forestry Commission website.

Protecting the water environment and reducing flooding

Appropriately located and designed new woodland is vital to help avoid or alleviate the pressures of increased flood risk, diffuse pollution, sedimentation, increased temperature and bankside instability on the water environment that are predicted to arise from climate change. Planting appropriate tree species at the right density can play a significant role in reducing these pressures.

Maps of priority areas for creating and managing ‘woodlands for water’ are currently being developed for the fourteen top priority catchments in Scotland, and will then be available on the FCS website.

Providing shade and shelter

In a climate where extremes of rainfall, temperature and (perhaps) wind are more likely, woodlands can help to make conditions more pleasant – for people and for farm animals. The Forestry Commission Research Note on air temperature regulation by urban trees and green infrastructure explains how trees can be chosen and positioned to optimise their impact. The creation of small woodlands on farms has useful information about designing the kinds of woodlands that can help in a rural situation. Woodlands that are designed to integrate with farming can help stabilise soils and reduce erosion; shelter and shade buildings and protect livestock. All of these will become increasingly important as the climate changes.