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Fit Forests Project

Fit Forests Project - the response of tree species to climate change


Changing environmental conditions associated with climate change are creating uncertainties about the suitability of the current choice of seed origins for Irish forestry. The uncertainties include whether the current range of native and non-native trees are adapted for future conditions and whether populations or individuals exist that may be more adapted to future climatic conditions.

Future climate projections indicate an increase in seasonal temperatures, a decrease in summer rainfall in the easterly regions and an increase in winter storms. The impact of rising temperatures may result in delayed or advanced bud burst, increase the length of the growing season and provide opportunities to expand the range of suitable species and provenances in Ireland. Warmer winter and summer temperatures may also present conditions for increased incidence of pests and pathogens.

These uncertainties may present challenges for certain tree species increasing the abiotic and biotic stresses to tree species. Therefore, a new research project called Fit Forests aims to provide critical information to adaptation of key forest tree species to climate change.

The project

This research will focus on the key species used in Irish forestry to provide up to date information on the best provenances and seed origins adapted for future Irish climatic conditions.

This research aims to ensure that suitable planting material used for the establishment of new forests are resilient to the impacts of climate change. As forests are an important part of the Irish government's climate action plan, it is important that future forests are adapted to future conditions so that they can continue to provide economic and social benefits.

  • Re-evaluate the performance of a range of seed origins from historic and current provenance test data
  • Assess whether Irish and foreign improved seed origins for certain species are suitably adapted for future warmer climates
  • Investigate the impact of climate parameters on the phenology and physiology of key species of importance to Irish forestry
  • Evaluate the effect of temperature and temperature extremes on the timing of phenological events of key species
  • To identify the suitability of new and marginal species under an altered climate regime employing bio- / geo-climatic modelling approaches
  • Determine the effect of drought events on the performance of the key species


Further information

Project partners

The Fit Forests Project is coordinated by Dr Niall Farrelly of Teagasc and is a collaboration between academic researchers from Teagasc, UCD, NUI-Maynooth and Coillte.


The project was awarded as part of the 2019 competitive fund for research proposals which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) under grant number 2019R511.