Woodlands must be adapted to minimise the risks of climate change, a new report has said.
Foresters are being urged to future-proof Scotland’s forests and woodlands by making them more resilient.
This will allow them to continue to provide environmental, social and economic benefits, and play a key role in achieving net-zero by 2045.
The advice, published during National Plant Health Week which runs to Sunday, is contained in a new UK Forestry Standard Practice Guide produced by the Forest Research agency.
It advises increasing tree species and diversity, creating mixed woodlands, using natural regeneration and the careful selection of tree provenance.
Environment minister Mairi McAllan said: “Our forests and woodlands have such a substantial role in helping to reduce climate change and nature loss, but we need to protect them and ensure they are up to the job well into the future.”
At the 2022 Institute of Chartered Foresters conference on Climate Smart Forestry, Ms McAllan highlighted the serious challenges with rapidly changing climate change, including milder, wetter winters and warmer drier summers mixed with more frequent extreme weather events.
She added: “With this change in climate we also need to ensure Scotland’s forests and woodlands are more resilient to the growing number of pests and diseases that we are now facing.
“There is a climate emergency upon us right now and keeping the status quo is simply not an option. It is essential that we make sure our forests are fit for the future.”
Trees play a crucial role in climate mitigation – with around 6.2 million tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide removed from Scotland’s atmosphere each year, which is around 10% of the country’s gross greenhouse gas emissions.
The report stresses the importance of mitigation and adaption measures to be considered together to ensure any action does not solve one problem while creating another.