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Forest Resilience



In the face of increased threats of pests, disease and climate change, everybody talks about the need to increase the resilience of our woods and trees. But what does this mean? What is the science and practice of forest resilience?

The RFS has published four papers in the Quarterly Journal of Forestry on  forest resilience by Jonathan Spencer MBE, former Head of Planning and Environment for Forestry England, and a leading authority on the history and ecology of woods and forests.

These papers can be found below and explain the ecological basis of forest resilience, how history has shaped species composition and forest ecology and propose changes to forestry policy and practice to increase resilience. They are required reading for all those with an interest in future proofing our woods and forests.

We are immensley grateful to Jonathan Spencer, and his co-author Alison Field, for this valuable collection of papers.

We have also published 15 alternative productive species profiles which may, in the right place, represent an opportunity for land managers to diiversity species choice and increase forest resilience.


Hockeridge Path For Website Leighton Redwood Dsc 0141

RFS Hockeridge Woods

RFS Leighton Redwoods 

Cricket bat Willow


Papers in the Series 

Pages From Forest Resillience The Ecological Components 

Paper 1:




Spencer, J. 2018. Forest Resilience in British Forests, Woods & Plantations - the ecological components Quarterly Journal of Forestry 112(1): 53-61

 Pages From Forest Resilience In British Forests Woods Plantation

Paper 2:




Spencer, J. 2018. Forest Resilience in British Forests, Woods & Plantations.  2. Plantation forests of spruce and other conifers  Quarterly Journal of Forestry 112(3): 185-192

 Pages From 190028 Fsc Qjf April 2019

Paper 3:




Spencer, J. 2019. Forest Resilience in British Forests, Woods & Plantations 3. Past and Future Forests in Britain Quarterly Journal of Forestry 113(2): 109-114

 Pages From Forest Resilience Spencer And Field

Paper 4:




Spencer, J. 2019. Forest Resilience in British Forests, Woods & Plantations 4. Forestry practice and 21st century challenges Quarterly Journal of Forestry 113(3): 169-177


Additional Resources 

Forestry Climate Change January 2020 (the Royal Forestry Society)

Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation of Forests, Woods and Trees in England 2018 (Forest Climate Change Working Group)

Planting for Reslient Woods  November 2018 (the Royal Forestry Society)

Tree Health Resilience Strategy - building the resilience of our trees, woods and forests to pests and diseases  May 2018 (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

UK Forests and Climate Change (Forest Research)

Climate Change impacts and adaptation in England's Woodlands (Forest Research)

Tree Species and Provenance (Forest Research information on over 60 tree species widely grown in British forests or with potential for the future)

Ecological Site Classification Decision Support System (Forest Research guidance on selecting suitable species for forest sites)

SilviFuture (network promoting novel forest species)

EUFORGEN (European network promoting conservation of genetic diversity among conifer tree species)

Quarterly Journal of Forestry (Journal of the Royal Forestry Society


The RFS 2015 NDG James conference, hosted jointly with the Woodland Trust, focussed on Resilient Woods: Meeting the Challenges with a high profile line-up of speakers considering resilience from a wide range of perspectives.  


The Quarterly Journal of Forestry currently has an online archive of approximately 1000 articles on all aspects of forestry, including species selection. Membership of RFS includes full access to our online archive, as well as many other benefits. Further information is located here