INTERNATIONAL forestry experts gathering in the Lake District will call for more mixed woodlands to help reduce flooding and combat climate change.

The three-day conference has been organised by Ted Wilson, director of Penrithbased Silviculture Research International, and has attracted experts from Britain, Europe and America.

Mr Wilson said: “There is no doubt that forests full of a vibrant mix of tree species of all ages – including saplings right through to mature timber- ready specimens and those naturally dying – are more resilient to climate change, less prone to disease, more resistant to high winds and better able to reduce flooding.

“We need less forests made up of single species and more mixed woodlands full of different species and ages – what we now call continuous cover forests – to help deal with the impact of climate change which we can see happening all around us.”

The Continuous Cover Forestry Group (CCFG) conference – “Delivering Sustainable and Resilient Woodlands in Britain” – will take place in June with special sessions in Thirlmere Forest and Wythop Wood.

Speakers include Geraint Richards, head forester for Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall.

CCFG was established in 1991 by a small group of foresters who believed that the UK and the rest of the world need a lot more continuous cover forestry.

Mr Wilson said superb examples existed on several estates in Britain and, in particular, the Lake District which he describes as the “crucible of sustainable forestry”.

He said: “There have always been radical thinkers in British forestry and at last more and more organisations, including the Woodland Trust, National Trust and Forestry Commission, as well as many companies and private landowners are embracing continuous cover forestry.

“But we would like to see more, as we need to start treating woodlands as whole living organisms if we are to help mitigate the worst effects of climate change.”

He cited well-established diverse forests around Thirlmere reservoir in Cumbria, which not only stabilise the slopes, but which slow the rate of rainwater run-off and act as filters that reduce the risk of damaging chemicals seeping into streams and waterways.

The conference will be in the Braithwaite Institute, near Keswick, and in woodlands across the north and west of the Lake District from June 3 to 5.

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