Santon Downham named best woodland for climate change in England

PUBLISHED: 09:41 25 June 2014

Walking  in Thetford Forest

Walking in Thetford Forest

(c) copyright

A Suffolk wood has been recognised for its innovative conservation techniques after it was named the best Woodlands for Climate Change in England.

The 192 hectare Santon Downham wood was chosen by judges in a competition hosted by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) with support from Forestry Commission England in partnership with the Climate Ready Project.

The competition aimed to identify woodlands where tree plantings, both new and restocking, are creating sites that are resilient to the predicted challenges of climate change and pests and diseases.

Judges visited five shortlisted contenders and judge Dr Gabriel Hemery said: “ It was clear that all shortlisted entrants had thoroughly researched the theories of environmental change, and developed practical solutions to fit local conditions. All shared a strong intention to manage the stands productively.”

Santon Downham is owned by Forestry Commission England and, following the outbreak of Dothistroma needle blight (DNB) in Thetford Forest, Forestry Commission staff trialled underplanting of thinned stands of Corsican pine with ten shade tolerant conifer species.

Judges were impressed by the way in which the outbreak of DNB had been faced up to at a vast scale and the novel approaches taken to the restructuring of stands and added: “Early survival and growth of the underplantings was impressive. Unexpected outcomes from the approaches taken have included a reduction in the occurrence of DNB in the thinned stands, and the improvement of micro-climate for some of the frost-sensitive conifers in the underplanting.”

Terry Jennings, Forestry Commission East England District Forester, said: “The team at East England FD are delighted to have received this prestigious award from the RFS. It is a reflection of the dedication and professionalism of the team to add climate change resilience to the forest in one of the, already, driest parts of the country and the challenges this presents.”

The £1,000 prize will be awarded to Friends of Thetford Forest to be spent on trees for the collection in the Lynford Arboretum that the Friends manage with the FC’s support.

The Awards will be presented at a special event at the Hay Barns, Upton, Oxfordshire, on July 9.

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