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Climate change and trees

An EU team developed new tools to support the transplantation of trees for climate adaptation reasons. Work considered previous failures and offered scenarios for likely success involving mixed populations of pine species.
Climate change and trees
As climate changes, tree varieties adapted to previous climates face survival difficulties. One solution may be to transplant trees already adapted to likely future climates to new locations.

The EU-funded AMECO (Assisted migration of forests as a climate change economic mitigation strategy) project provided the necessary tools to evaluate such assisted migrations.

Researchers analysed cases where the concept had been tried previously, specifically one well-documented failure. The case resulted in great economic loss and implementation of EU regulations to prevent repeats.

Subsequently, the team proposed suitable tree transplantation scenarios, including two species of pine. After assessing Spanish and French inventories, researchers selected transplantation sites where the local trees are at risk from climate change. The selected species were from locations having low sensitivity to change. Based on simulations, the team proposed and tested three planting strategies: foreign seed only, local seed only and a combination. The results did not favour any particular strategy, and revealed a deeper complexity. Seed refuges may only be suitable solutions in some cases.

To determine which cases were suitable, the consortium modelled the vulnerability of native tree species in Europe. Results indicate that management should more intensively sample genetic resources of mountain conifers at their lower distribution boundaries, compared to areas with less vulnerability. Certain vulnerable populations may have better survival chances in other locales.

Following tests and predictions of growth rates of various species at five French sites, the team concluded that there are no definitive best decisions. The study recommended mixed populations to give forests the best chance to adapt.

The AMECO project's management guidelines may help sustain European forests during periods of climate change.

Related information


Climate change, trees, transplantation, AMECO, assisted migration, forests
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