Tayside and Central Scotland

Stirling University to study climate impact on forests

beech Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The project will focus on beech, Europe's most widespread broadleaf tree

An £800,000 study led by Stirling University will investigate how European forests are affected by changing climates.

The project will focus on the impact of warming climates on beech, Europe's most widespread broadleaf tree - covering more than 15m hectares.

Beech produces wood and fibre and is known to be at high risk of drought.

The research will link satellite observations and data to provide a picture of growth across 25 countries.

Researchers hope it will allow them to investigate the impact of drought in near real-time and support forward planning for UK forest management.

Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling will receive £526,000 for the new project while Durham University, Forest Research and universities in Dresden and Munich will also be involved.

'More intense drought'

Prof Alistair Jump, who is leading the project, said: "More intense drought and increased temperatures reduce tree growth and drive tree dieback and mortality across the globe.

"While this problem has been recognised for some time, the processes and geographical extent of forest growth reduction and die-off are not well understood.

"Predicting the response of Europe's forests to drought and temperature change is a key challenge because forests have enormous economic and ecological benefits that will be impacted as climate warms and becomes more extreme.

"This new funding will allow us to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to address these issues by predicting and monitoring drought-linked forest growth decline across the continent."