What are the top ten most important priorities facing trees in the 21st Century?

A new dawn for forestry
A new dawn for forestry

Policy is traditionally led by civil servants with the agenda of delivering Government policies.  However, these may not always reflect the views and the vision of the experts and practitioners amongst an industry.  They may also be out of step with practical requirements, particularly in forestry where life cycles are so many times greater than any Government policy; a point I made in Slow-growing trees, fast-changing policies.

I have been involved in a project over the last two years that set out to ask the forestry community what it believed were the most important priorities for trees and forestry, and how the scientific community should respond.  The initiative was called the T10Q project.

An online survey was used to collate responses from 481 researchers, policy makers and woodland owners, who contributed 1594 research questions. These were debated and prioritised by 51 participants from the UK and Republic of Ireland who attended a workshop at the University of Oxford.  The results:

The Top Ten Questions for forestry

1.       What are the most technically and financially effective ways of identifying, monitoring and controlling invasive species, pests and disease?

2.       How can we achieve better understanding between foresters and other parts of society?

3.       What are the most effective landscape planting schemes to ensure connectivity between woodland fragments while maintaining connectivity between other land use types?

4.       How will climate change affect both natural forest ecosystems and forestry and how should management be adapted to minimize adverse impacts and optimize benefits?

5.       What is the value of forestry to human health and well-being?

6.       Who are the private woodland owners and how can they be engaged and influenced? What are their concerns?

7.       Which parts of forest ecosystems form the largest and most stable carbon pools and how are these impacted by forest management and climate change?

8.       How can we address the economic, environmental, social and institutional constraints of expanding woodfuel in the UK?

9.       What species or provenances should we be considering in relation to a range of forestry systems including urban and agroforestry, in the light of climate change?

10.   What are the barriers to knowledge transfer in forestry from research to practice and how can they be removed?

The story behind this work and the full details were recently published in a scientific journal.  Read the full article.

Gabriel Hemery

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