Drought puts beeches at risk

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Business Update -

En­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists have found beech forests across western Europe are in­creas­ingly at risk from drought – with ar­eas of south­ern Eng­land the worst af­fected. In a new 1.4 mil­lion euro study, re­searchers ex­am­ined tree ring data from 46 beech forests across Western Europe to help un­cover the ex­tent to which the growth of beech forests is be­ing im­pacted by changes in cli­mate. Re­sults pub­lished in Global Change Bi­ol­ogy show beech trees at the cen­tre of the re­gion where the species grows, in this case south­ern Eng­land, were least re­sis­tant to drought com­pared with forests lo­cated else­where in Europe. Alistair Jump, pro­fes­sor of plant ecol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Stir­ling in Scot­land and lead au­thor, said: “We might ex­pect beech forests in hot­ter and drier re­gions of Europe, such as south­ern France and Spain, to be most at risk. How­ever, we have found that the south of the UK – the very cen­tre of the area where the species grows – is most badly af­fected.” The re­search also re­vealed that the dam­age in­flicted on beech trees dur­ing the record­break­ing hot sum­mer of 1967 has im­pacted forests through­out the UK. Prof Jump said: “As our cli­mate con­tin­ues to warm, droughts will be­come more fre­quent and more ex­treme.”

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