DiversiTree – Diversifying our Woodlands to Increase Resilience

10:00 – 11:15 am, 1 February 2024
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The UK government plans to increase woodland cover as part of its plans to store more carbon, to mitigate climate change. However, many of the UK’s trees are threatened by climate change and a range of pests and diseases, which might limit their ability to contribute to carbon storage and the wide range of other benefits delivered by woodlands. We therefore need to make our woodlands resilient to these future threats. One commonly proposed approach to increase the resilience of woods is to increase their tree diversity. Thus, spreading the risk amongst many different trees, as we don’t know exactly how each tree species will respond to climate change, nor what threats from pests and diseases they may face decades into the future. This seminar will introduce the DiversiTree project (funded by the Future of UK Treescapes programme) and present our preliminary results.

DiversiTree addresses four knowledge gaps related to the diversification of woodlands:

  1. How do stakeholders understand forest diversity, their diversification strategies, and their visions and ambitions for diverse future forests?
  2. Are the microbes found on the leaves of trees more diverse in woodlands with mixed tree species and does this help trees to better defend themselves against diseases?
  3. How may diversification of tree species within a wood allow the continued support of woodland biodiversity?
  4. How do we implement and communicate management strategies to increase woodland resilience?


Chris Nichols (Woodland Trust) – Chris is leading the ‘Solutions & Knowledge Exchange’ work-package of DiversiTree. Chris is Conservation Evidence Manager at the Woodland Trust and is responsible for ensuring the Trust’s work is underpinned by evidence. Chris oversees WT’s Conservation Research Programme and Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Framework. Before working at WT, Chris was a research scientist at the Animal & Plant Health Agency. Chris completed his PhD on grey squirrel bark-stripping damage at Forest Research.

Lisa Lamberte (University of Birmingham) – Lisa is a Research Fellow working in the group of Professor Robert W. Jackson. Lisa has a strong background in molecular microbiology and microbial genomics. Previously, she has held a BBSRC-funded Research Fellow post which involved understanding the spread of antimicrobial resistance genes in the preterm infant gut microbiome. Currently, she works on the DiversiTree team on the work package “Ecosystem Functionality: the microbiome and tree resilience”.
Norman Dandy (Bangor University) – DiversiTree social science WP: Understandings of, and ambitions for, woodland diversity. Norman Dandy is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Sir William Roberts Centre for Sustainable Land Use at Bangor University. He is an environmental social scientist pursuing research on institutional, ethical, and cultural aspects of forest governance, management and biosecurity. He has 15+ years’ experience of leading or co-leading grant-funded forestry projects.

Rob Jackson (University of Birmingham) – DiversiTree WP2 Ecosystem functionality: the microbiome and tree resilience. Professor Rob Jackson did a PhD and first postdoc studying the role plasmids and genomic ICElands in the virulence and evolution of the plant pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. He then did a postdoctoral post at the University of Oxford studying beneficial bacteria followed by a short fellowship at the University of Auckland and a two-year postdoctoral post at the University of Bath. He took up a lectureship at the University of Reading, becoming an Associate Professor (2013) then Professor of Molecular Microbiology (2016). In 2020, he took up the post of Director of the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) and BIFoR Chair in Tree Pathology at the University of Birmingham.

Ruth Mitchell (James Hutton Institute) Ruth is a woodland ecologist. She is the project lead for DiversiTree and is also leading the ecological work package of the project. Ruth’s recent research has focussed on the impacts of tree diseases, such as ash dieback and acute oak decline, on biodiversity and ecosystem function. Ruth has over 20 years’ experience working on policy-relevant research and her work has been widely used by policymakers, including Defra, Natural England and NatureScot. Ruth is a current member of NatureScot’s Scientific Advisory Committee, and Defra’s Trees and Woodlands Science Advisory Group

Seumas Bates (Bangor University) – DiversiTree social science WP: Understandings of, and ambitions for, woodland diversity. Seumas Bates is a Research Officer and member of the Sir William Roberts Centre for Sustainable Land Use at Bangor University. He is an environmental anthropologist, specialising in studying disturbed and hazardous landscapes, including recovery from large-scale disasters, and responses to pests and diseases in UK woodland management.