We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Profile

Publication details for Professor B. Huntley

Huntley, B., Allen, J. R. M., Bennie, J., Collingham, Y. C., Miller, P. A. & Suggitt, A. J. (2018). Climatic disequilibrium threatens conservation priority forests. Conservation Letters 11(1): e12349.

Author(s) from Durham


We test the hypothesis that climatic changes since 1800 have resulted in unrealised potential vegetation changes that represent a ‘climatic debt’ for many ecosystems. Caledonian pinewoods, an EU priority forest type, are used as a model system to explore potential impacts of two centuries of climatic change upon sites of conservation importance and surrounding landscapes. Using methods that estimate topographic microclimate, current and pre-industrial climates were estimated for 50 m grid cells and simulations made using a dynamic vegetation model. Core Caledonian pinewood areas are now less suitable for growth of pine and more favourable for oak than in 1800, whereas landscapes as a whole are on average more favourable for both. The most favourable areas for pine are now mainly outside areas designated to conserve historical pinewoods. A paradigm shift is needed in formulating conservation strategies to avoid catastrophic losses of this habitat, and of many others globally with trees or other long-lived perennials as keystone species.