ADAPTForRes Research Project
Adaptation, mitigation and protection strategies to increase resilience of Irish forests to impacts of climate change
There is considerable uncertainty about how climate change will effect Irish forestry. Projections of increases in seasonal temperature and rainfall have the potential to effect the growth and productivity of forest ecosystems which may have a positive or negative effect depending on how well tree species are adapted to changing conditions. An increase in disturbance events may be a consequence as a result of the increasing frequency of winter storms and pests and diseases have the potential to become more prevalent owing to changing environmental conditions. ADAPTForRes is a research project which hopes to understand how changes to climate may impact on the sustainability of Irish forestry, and examine pathways which may reduce the negative effects of climate change on Irish forests, reduce risk.
Resilience is a measure of how a forest responds to perturbation, and how quickly it can recover to its ideal state. Identifying vulnerabilities in Irish forests which can be enhanced by increasing resilience is a key strategy to reduce future risk thus ensuring the vitality of our forest resource. ADAPTForRes will research three pathways aimed at increasing the resilience of Irish forests to climate change. These pathways are; adaptation, mitigation and protection strategies for Irish forests to reduce the impacts of climate change on the forestry and land use sectors. We aim to provide science based evidence for improved decision making for policy makers, forest owners, farmers, foresters and the forestry sector.
The research hopes to assess forest genetic options aimed at increasing adaptation of forest reproductive material. The study will investigate strategies to increase the resilience and sustainability of forest sinks and reduce emissions from the forest resource. Finally, this research is aimed at increasing our understanding of the risk of potential harmful pests and pathogens and will explore innovative measures to aid in their detection, in effort to assist in the national surveillance, detection and protection of our valuable forest resources.
The project aims to investigate three key areas aimed at enhancing and increasing resilience in our forests.
1. Forest Genetic Options
Diversity is often associated with the ability of trees to adapt to changing conditions. We aim to assess genetic diversity and adaptive potential to changing climate conditions within key tree species used in Irish forestry. The study will investigate if adaptive traits (e.g. flushing, drought tolerance) are present in populations of selected tree species. This information will be used to determine if the current range of forest reproductive material is suitably adapted for future conditions.
2. Forest Management Practices
The research hopes to assess the impact of diverse and adaptive forest management options on forest resilience. The study will explore opportunities for enhanced mitigation and examine potential measures to ensure the maintenance of sustainable forest sinks. This includes assessing afforestation scenarios and their sequestration potential together with forest management practices which may reduce the risk of carbon loss from existing forest stocks.
3. Forest Protection Measures
Effective forest resource protection requires optimum surveillance. We aim to assess forest protection measures that have potential to enhance resilience of Irish forests. These include performing a pest risk analysis of oak and pine species and horizon scanning for future threats to these tree species. We aim to establish a pathogen reference database that will indicate the current pests and pathogen occurrence in Irish forests. The potential of utilising high through put DNA sequencing as a method to identify the presence of forest pests and pathogens and its potential application to increase the efficiency of forest surveillance will be investigated.
The outcomes of this research may have significant potential to contribute to increasing the resilience in Irish forests to the impacts of climate change and resolve some of the uncertainties associated.
- Dr Niall Farrelly, Teagasc, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co Galway
- Jo Naughton, Teagasc, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co Galway
The project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between six institutions (Teagasc, University College Dublin, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin and the National Botanic Gardens) and is coordinated by Dr Niall Farrelly of Teagasc.
The project is an all-Ireland approach to increasing forest resilience. It is funded under grant number 2021RI302 provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland.