Risk/opportunity:(from the Climate Change Risk Assessment for Scotland 2012):
FO3: Windthrow and storm damage

Narratives: Suitability and productivity (forestry)

SCCAP theme: Natural environment

SCCAP objectives:
N3: Sustain and enhance the benefits, goods and services that the natural environment provides

Latest figures

Year

Number of uses

Number of users

2012

124

78

Trend

2018 briefing based on updated data that does not directly replace earlier indicator.

At a glance
  • The impact of climate change on future wind risk is uncertain but is likely to increase due to more frequent severe storms and wetter soils in winter
  • ForestGALES is a decision support tool to help plan forest planting to minimise windthrow risk
  • The tool is used by both the private forest sector and the Forestry Commission
  • Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Research promote use of Forest GALES in their climate change adaptation guidance

Wind throw can cause significant damage to woodland through uprooting and snapping of stems.  Scotlandcontains some of the windiest areas of the UK(Quine et al., 2005) and the highest percentage of forest cover (Forestry Commission, 2014).  Wind throw is an important factor for forest management, and the UK already experiences significant impacts from wind damage. It influences the tree species planted and management practices, including felling age and thinning regimes (Mason et al., 2013).

ForestGALES is a decision support tool which aims to assist forest managers in their decisions about how to plant forest stands to minimise windthrow.  The tool takes into account the effect of species, cultivation, drainage and silviculture.  The probability of damaging winds occurring is then calculated using information on the wind climate of Great Britain (classified using the ‘DAMS’ scoring system).  ForestGALES is regarded by Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Research as an important tool to help forest managers reduce wind throw risk to forest stands.  Both refer forest managers to the tool in their climate change adaptation guidance and training activities.  These data show the number of registered users and the number of uses of the web based ForestGALES software forGreat Britainas recorded by Forest Research.

Related indicators:

NF16 Proportion of coniferous woodland on the National Forest Estate with a high/medium-high risk of wind throw

Over the last 4 years the use of ForestGALES in Great Britain has steadily increased (Table 1).  It had 124 uses in 2012, compared to 55 in 2009.  The number of new users registering has also steadily increased as has the total number of on-going active users.

Table 1 Use of ForestGALES – Great Britain figures.

 

ForestGALES (Annual Figures)

Year

Number of 
New Users

Number of 
Active Users

Number of 
uses (log ins)

2009

31

33

55

2010

46

60

113

2011

44

74

113

2012

48

78

124

ForestGALES is being promoted through Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Research climate change adaptation guidance and training.  It is expected that the number of uses and users will therefore continue to steadily increase.

Since 2009, the private forest sector has had a larger number of users of ForestGALES, compared to the Forestry Commission (FC).  Both groups have had an increasing number of new registered users and active users between 2009 and 2012 – see Fig. 1 and Fig. 2.

 

Figure 1: Number of new users of ForestGALES in total and split by private sector and Forestry Commission users - Great Britain figures.

Figure 2: Number of Active Users of ForestGALES in total and split by private sector and Forestry Commission users - Great Britain figures.

The private forestry sector makes a greater number of total uses of ForestGALES per year when compared to Forestry Commission - although there has been some short term fluctuation in the number of uses – see Fig. 3.

 

Figure 3: Number of uses of ForestGALES in total and split by private sector and Forestry Commission users - Great Britain figures.

ForestGALES is being promoted through Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Research climate change adaptation guidance and training.  Fluctuations in use may reflect changing awareness of wind risk as a result of storm damage and also changes in awareness of the ForestGALES tool, for example as a result of training.

This indicator uses figures forGreat Britainrather than forScotlandbecause it is not possible to distinguish Scottish users from other users inGreat Britain.  It is hoped in the future the registration process will be adjusted so as to allow a Scottish level analysis of use.

The figures presented also only represent on-line use of ForestGALES.  The tool is also available on CD with a greater range of functions than the on-line version, and as such some people prefer to request the CD rather than access the tool on-line. The total use of ForestGALES is therefore under estimated in the figures presented.

Forestry Commission (2014) Forestry Facts and Figures.  Available at: www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-7aqf6j

Mason, W., and Vallinger, E., (2013) Managing forests to reduce storm damage. In: Gardiner B, Schuck, A., Schelhaas, M-J., Orazio, C., Blennow, K. and Nicoll, B. (Eds.), Living with Storm Damage to Forests: What Science Can Tell Us 3. European Forest Institute.

Quine, C. P., Coutts, M., Gardiner, B. and Pyatt, G. (1995) Forests and wind: Management to minimise damage. Forestry Commission Bulletin 114. HMSO, London.

Forest Research (Kate Beauchamp, Stephen Bathgate).