British tree species will make way for continental neighbours

Beech and birch could be replaced by walnuts and Corsican pine as climate change shapes the face of British woodlands.

This is just one of the changes predicted by tree specialists who believe the Southern England of the near future will have a climate comparable to modern-day Bordeaux.

Sessile Oaks and Sitka spruce could also find themselves retreating north, giving ground to the likes of sweet chestnut and Douglas fir.

At Trees in a changing climate, a conference hosted by the University of Surrey in Guildford on June 14 and 15, experts will look at how new weather patterns will shape the forests of the future.

Trees have more difficulty adapting to climate change than their more mobile cousins in the animal kingdom, as they can only 'migrate' very slowly, as each generation spreads its seed.

This could prove problematic in years to come, as the temperature and weather conditions change faster than British trees can retreat to the North.

Organisers have even invited a guest speaker from France to give a picture of current tree and woodland distribution and management in a warmer climate.

The organisers aim to remind people that trees can take up to 100 years to mature and those planted today may find themselves reaching maturity in a very different Britain.

They will likely encounter drier, hotter summers with warmer, wetter winters and face drier soil but a greater risk of floods.

New data published by the Met Office on Monday, 06 June seems to support the theory, showing southern England to have had one of the driest six months on record while northern areas have been wetter than usual.

Some areas have had little over half their average rainfall and water companies now face the challenge of getting the water from where most falls to densely populated areas.

By Sam Bond



Waste & resource management

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