DiversiTree aims to increase the resilience of current and future woodlands to climate change and tree diseases by understanding the methods to, and the impacts of, diversifying tree species composition within our woods.

Currently there is rapid woodland expansion within the UK as part of the government plans to store more carbon, to mitigate climate change and to reverse biodiversity declines. However, many of the UK’s trees are threatened by climate change and a range of diseases, which may limit their ability to contribute to carbon storage and the wide range of other benefits delivered by woodlands. We therefore need to make our woodlands resilient to these future threats.

One commonly proposed approach to increase the resilience of woods is to increase tree species diversity. This approach spreads the risk amongst many different trees as we don’t know how different trees will respond to climate change, nor what threats from diseases they may face decades into the future.

DiversiTree will combine woodland managers’ knowledge with ecological knowledge to identify which tree species and management approaches best deliver diversification that increases resilience.

YouTube webinar from the team, showing early results from the project
What is DiversiTree? Dr Ruth Mitchell explains – YouTube

DiversiTree focuses on woods dominated by two conifer species, Scots Pine and Sitka Spruce, as in the year to March 2021 54% of all new woodland was coniferous. Scots Pine is a native conifer of economic significance. It is planted for timber production but is also the dominant species in the culturally iconic Caledonian pinewoods and is at risk from the tree disease Dothistroma. Sitka Spruce is not native to Britain but is our most economically valuable tree species and is at risk from invasive bark beetles and climate change.

DiversiTree addresses four knowledge gaps related to the diversification of woodlands:

  • How do stakeholders understand forest diversity, their diversification strategies, and their visions and ambitions for diverse future forests?
  • Are the microbes found on the leaves of trees more diverse in woodlands with mixed tree species and does this help trees to better defend themselves against diseases?
  • How may diversification of tree species within a wood allow the continued support of woodland biodiversity?
  • How do we implement and communicate management strategies to increase woodland resilience?

At its essence, DiversiTree is a collaboration between academics and practitioners. One of the ways we are ensuring those who are at the coalface of woodland management have a voice in DiversiTree, is by convening a Practitioners Panel. The Panel will meet in-person four times throughout the project to engage in field-based 360 learning, to scrutinise, test feasibility and enhance the implementation of findings from the project. The Practitioners Panel is made up of individuals with in-depth and diverse experience of woodland management for a range of different objectives and priority outcomes. See the latest graphical outputs from our Practitioners Panel meeting held at Mar Lodge, 13th September 2023. Thank you to National Trust for Scotland for hosting the event, and to Holly McKelvey for producing these outputs.

Follow us on @DiversiTree_UK

Additional Knowledge exchange: In addition to the knowledge exchange occurring within this project, this project is one of three Future of UK Treescapes projects that are part of the Tree of Knowledge: community the complexity of forest resilience.”