Woods best able to cope with climate change and disease hailed

A Suffolk wood has been named winner of the Woodlands for Climate Change in England award by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS).

New underplanting at Santon Downham - image:RFS
New underplanting at Santon Downham - image:RFS

Santon Downham is a 192ha site within the Forestry Commission's Thetford Forest in Suffolk.

Following the outbreak of Dothistroma needle blight (DNB) in the forest, staff trialled underplanting of thinned stands of Corsican pine with ten shade-tolerant conifer species, leading to a reduction in the occurrence of DNB in the thinned stands, and the improvement of micro-climate for some of the newer frost-sensitive conifers.

The £1,000 prize will be awarded to friends of Thetford Forest to be spent on trees for the collection in the Lynford Arboretum that the Friends manage with the FC’s support.

Treworder Barton Farm, Wadebridge, Cornwall took Silver for a commercial eucalypt, Sitka spruce and native broadleaved planting scheme it put in as part of a farm diversification scheme.

Farm owner Hugh Davis said: "Especially here in the South West there will be a shortage in wood to supply, coupled with the growing bio- and woodfuel markets driven by the Renewable Heat Incentive, and I felt that nobody was really seriously looking at the home grown supply issue."

Supported by Forestry Commission England and the Environment Agency's Climate Ready project, the competition has aimed to identify woodlands where tree plantings, both new and restocking, are creating sites that are resilient to the predicted challenges of climate, pests and diseases.

Judges visited five shortlisted contenders and judge Dr Gabriel Hemery said: " It was clear that all shortlisted entrants had thoroughly researched the theories of environmental change, and developed practical solutions to fit local conditions."

The Awards will be presented at a special event next month.

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