Mature trees and climate change – why are they overlooked and why are they important?

Arts Building, Lecture Room 3
Tuesday 9 June 2015 (13:00-14:00)

There is evidence of changes in climate and atmospheric environment around the world. As these changes are rapid and unprecedented in evolutionary history, trees and other long-lived organisms will invariably experience large environmental changes during their lifetime. Although we wouldn’t diagnose the ills of a septuagenarian using a paediatrician, we rely on the equivalent of this for trees. Our knowledge base of responses to environmental changes is strongly biased toward young seedlings, and greatly lacking in terms of work done on mature trees. As a result, the ‘paediatrician diagnosis’ is frequently the only one available. Yet most of the characteristics of forests that we benefit from in terms of biodiversity, amenities and ecosystem services are provided by stands of mature trees and not seedlings.

In this seminar, Professor Ellsworth will build a case for scientific experimentation involving the mature state of trees, and also address some shortcomings in doing so. He will discuss in particular how mature trees regulate key trace gases over large parts of the earth, and thus ameliorate air pollution loads and mitigate climate change. Finally, he will consider a role for large-scale climate change facilities, such as free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiment at the Hawkesbury Institute or FACE being developed within the Birmingham Institute for Forest Research (BIFoR).

This seminar is free to attend but registration is recommended.