Building Resilience in Scotland’s Urban Tree Populations

This paper examines the current position of urban tree management and the extent to which climate change resilience is being addressed.

It provides feedback from interviews with six of the seven Scottish city arboricultural and greenspace officers and their responsiveness to the need for climate change adaptation and resilience building.  It offers reflections on how policy support for the arboricultural and urban forestry sector can be more effective in future.

The main findings are:

  • Ageing tree populations and the current and likely future impact of pests and diseases are currently changing attitudes and operations more than climate change
  • Storms and recent case law involving human injury/death are increasing the adoption of risk management principles for city trees
  • Availability of resources is currently limiting resilience-building strategies, though species diversification and establishment of novel species is taking place
  • Scottish cities are showing significant interest in more efficient re-use and marketing of their arboricultural arisings, for timber, firewood, biomass and horticultural uses, though the primary motivation is financial
  • There is a need to develop a better collective understanding of the value of trees across local authority departments