Seeing the wood for the trees
Britain’s woods and forests have an important part to play in mitigating climate change – which is why it is crucial to have a detailed record of their size and condition. Over the next five years, surveyors will visit 15,000 woodland sites across England, Scotland and Wales, gathering information about the number, species, age, height and condition of woodland trees. The results will be compared with those of the last National Forest Inventory – taken in the 1990s – to detect any major changes in the size and condition of Britain’s woodland.
The survey results are particularly significant at a time when the threat of climate change is more serious than ever. As Peter Weston, head of inventory and forecasting for the Forestry Commission, pointed out: “There is a growing recognition of the role that trees and forests can play in helping to prevent runaway climate change, and in helping society adapt to the effects of climate change.”
Having a clear picture of the state of Britain’s woodlands will help the government fulfil the goals outlined in its new Low Carbon Transition Plan and will enable it to make decisions on a wide range of topics, from forest planning to public recreation. The goal, according to Weston, is to have “accurate, up-to-date information that is scientifically and statistically sound”.