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Tree of Knowledge

Tree of Knowledge: communicating the complexity of forest resilience.

The Tree of Knowledge (ToK) is a collaborative project bringing together three UKRI Future of UK Treescapes projects: MEMBRA, newLEAF, and DiversiTree. Our goal is to communicate the complexity of forest resilience, exchanging knowledge and synthesizing the findings from these projects. We will develop common messages from across the three projects for stakeholders and highlight the importance of both visible (species diversity) and invisible (genetic diversity and epigenetics) aspects of forest resilience.

In today's changing climate, our forests face a multitude of challenges, including climate change itself and the increasing threat of tree pests and pathogens. These factors subject our forests to a greater range of stresses and disturbance events than ever before. To ensure the long-term health and survival of our forests, we must adapt and make them more resilient. Resilience is achieved through a combination of multiple interacting factors, with diversity being a key parameter.

Species diversity refers to the number of different tree species within a stand, forest, or landscape. Higher tree species diversity can enhance resilience if one tree species can substitute for another, fulfilling similar roles within the ecosystem. DiversiTree is studying how we can increase the species diversity of our forests.

Genetic diversity refers to the variation among individuals within a species. This diversity bolsters resilience under changing conditions by increasing the chances that some individuals are better adapted to the new environment. The newLEAF project focuses on studying genetic diversity and its role in forest resilience.

Additionally, trees possess the ability to undergo epigenetic changes. These changes occur when a tree's phenotype, change due to exposure to a stressor during its lifetime. This allows them to rapidly adapt to their environment. These epigenetic changes can be thought of as the "memory" of the tree and are being studied by the MEMBRA project.

While forest managers are advised that diversity increases resilience, the practical implementation of diversity concepts can be complex and nuanced. It may involve trade-offs between tree species, genetic diversity, and epigenetic memory. The Tree of Knowledge project aims to synthesize and exchange knowledge about the benefits, risks, and uncertainties associated with these different components of resilience. Our goal is to make these concepts visible and accessible to practitioners, policy makers, and the public.

Collaborating institutes and lead staff

Funding information

The Tree of Knowledge is one of four projects which aims to propel and amplify the impact of Future of UK Treescapes research in unique ways. The projects are supported by a grant of up to £100,000 each, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).



Areas of Interest

Printed from /research/departments/ecological-sciences/our-science/biodiversity-and-ecosystems/tree-knowledge on 30/11/23 12:00:05 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.