Resilient forests: resources for forest managers

Climate change is already an impact in Scotland, and climate projections suggest that this will increase. For forests, the unpredictability and intensity of weather patterns will be especially problematic. Pests and diseases are nothing new, but the increase in forest pathogens represents a significant challenge to our traditional practices. It is imperative that we take action now to start developing more resilient forests for the future. 

What needs to be done to improve resilience? 

Resilience-building is all about risk management – reducing harm and exploiting the potential benefits of climate change both today and in the long term. We can gain comfort from the fact that practices such as ‘restructuring’ – intended to improve forest landscapes, amenity and biodiversity - are already helping to build resilience.

Furthermore, most of the actions that are needed are already recommended as best practice and will help improve the resilience of forestry businesses to other changes – such as changing economic conditions or market preferences.

Resilient forests: resources

We have selected the resources we believe forest managers will find most useful. Over time we will add further information, for example about building resilience in the native woodland ecosystem.

Three key publications

Impacts of climate change on forestry in Scotland

This Research Note from Forest Research explains the impact that climate change is likely to have on Scotland’s forests and forestry practices. It includes helpful maps showing, in general terms, how climate change is likely to affect species suitability across the country.

Achieving diversity in Scotland’s forest landscapes

This Forestry Commission Scotland Practice Guide is aimed at the owners and managers of large conifer woodlands planted primarily for timber production. It aims to demonstrate how forests can be diversified to increase their resilience to climate change and for other reasons, and provides practical advice when planning for and implementing diversity.

Using alternative conifers for productive forestry in Scotland (PDF 10.6MB)

A guide to the selection, silviculture and use of twelve conifer species, all of which are considered to have productive potential in Scotland. This practical guide should inspire forest managers to look beyond your current palette of species; the ESC tool can help further with species choice.

A note on the term ‘resilience’

In this guidance, resilience doesn’t mean ‘resistance to change’; change is inevitable. It means that the forest can recover from unforeseen events and continue to provide the benefits we want, even as the climate changes. So it might be a different forest in its composition and structure, but it still does what we want the forest to do; perhaps to provide a habitat, produce timber, and look attractive in the landscape.


Please give us feedback (good or bad) on these resources by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..