Modelling forest growth in a changing environment

On Friday the 5th of December Simon Lloyd, Director of the Royal Forestry Society, gave a talk at the Bangor Forestry Students Association about resilience and new paradigms for British woodlands.

The key message was that accellerated tree diseases, unmanaged pests, climate change, and new economic scenarios are already affecting British forestry, forcing woodland managers to change their management decisions. A shift from traditional even-aged monospecific coniferous plantations was advocated, as well as the idea that natural local broadleaves are a simple panacea for all the problems.

Continuous Forest Cover approaches, use of alternative minor species, accepting to change landscapes were some of the suggestions Simon Lloyd provided. He admitted that there is not enough knowledge about new some of the new approaches and more data must be collected. As an example is silvifuture.org.uk where owners of novel tree species can share their experience.

As a forest modeller, the question I have to ask myself is: how versatile should be a forest model nowadays? Should I prepare one that is able to take into consideration possible climate change scenarios? Or with the option to incorporate easily more species and situations, and to change parameters for the ones already considered? Models based on analysis of the statistical relationships of data collected now might lose validity soon under the drivers of change described by Simon Lloyd.