The Europe Regional Climate Centre
Earthwatch is undertaking a comprehensive forest research programme looking at the impacts of climate change on forests. This Climate Centre is one of five global research centres.
Many of Europe's temperate forests have been heavily impacted by humans, resulting in an extremely fragmented and patchy distribution.
This makes Europe's woodlands particularly vulnerable to climatic events such as storms, which are likely to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change. In the UK, only a tenth of the land is now forested, following five thousand years of clearance for agriculture.
Watch a video from our Europe Regional Climate Centre to see how we are tackling climate change:
The Europe Regional Climate Centre is located in Wytham Woods, in the heart of the Upper Thames Basin in Oxfordshire, UK. The woods have been owned by the University of Oxford since 1943. The estate encompasses 775 hectares of ancient woodland, conifer plantations, grassland, rivers and farmland.
At this site, Earthwatch is working alongside three local research partners - the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and the Environmental Change Institute (ECI).
The research in Wytham Woods will take into account many aspects of forest ecology, from measuring uptake and release of carbon dioxide to monitoring small mammal populations that depend on the forest habitat. The key tree species of interest include oak, ash, sycamore, field maple, and hawthorn. Small mammal species include bank voles, field voles, and mice. Bats, moths and butterflies will also be studied.
The results gathered over the next five years will help us to understand how temperate forests will respond to climate change. Earthwatch and its partner organisations will then be in a position to develop guidelines for woodland managers across northern Europe, helping them to maximise the resilience of their forests to changing weather patterns.
Learn more about this programme and Earthwatch's role in the HSBC Climate Partnership.