The National Trust has warned that the countryside is undergoing “dramatic change” due to climate change. The warning comes with the news that 30000 trees will be cut down this winter.
For some time now the MetOffice has warned that the climate in the UK is getting milder wetter winters and warmer summers. That change is according to the National Trust driving a change in the scale and types of pests and diseases that are spreading around the UK.
Ash dieback and acute oak decline have been issues for some time in the UK but the weather changes are increasing the scale and speed of the spread of the diseases. This phenomena will according to Trust, affect major parts of the UK and will result in significant changes to the landscape as trees get cut back or die.
The combination of wetter winters and warmer summers is likely to the trees’ natural defences as they are not well equipped to deal with the rapid change. The problem is likely to affect indigenous species more than those that are considered invasive or which have been brought to the country.
Native trees also face a growing threat from powerful storms, with thousands coming down in the most recent storm, the forecast being between 75% and 95% of UK ash trees likelyto be lost in the next 20 to 30 years. Many of these trees will be cut down but many others will disappear as a result of these natural disasters as well as disease and pests.
John Deakin, the National Trust’s Head of Trees and Woodland said “This could have a catastrophic impact on our countryside and for nature, as homes for wildlife are depleted,” He added that “many iconic and native species may disappear” and that “it was crucial to create landscapes and woodlands that are more resilient to the changing weather.”
The loss of trees is devastating, trees being an important tool in the fight against climate change. As a result the Trust is calling for donations to help replace the trees that will be cut down. People can either take advanatge of schemes like the one in Wales or by donating to its Plant A Tree fundraising campaign aims to plant a diverse array of trees from more resilient species in the woodlands it manages to future-proof them against climate change.
Dr Keith Kirby, Woodland Ecologist at Oxford University says the news that 30000 trees will be cut down this winter “brings home that we need to create woods that are resilient to stresses that we weren’t thinking about 10 or 20 years ago. Climate change will throw up new threats, new issues for us and we need to make sure our woods are likely to be able to respond to those threats, even though we don’t yet know what they are.”
The news that 30000 trees will be cut down this winter is bad news for the UK’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint as it is for those trying to maintain the beauty of the countryside.
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