Atlas shows impact of climate change on forest distribution

Atlas shows impact of climate change on forest distribution


Spain: Researchers from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions Forestals (CREAF) have developed the Suitability Atlas of Woody Plants of the Iberian Peninsula, a series of digital maps available online. According to Science Daily report, this atlas, for the first time, reveals the present and future degree of adaptation, to climate conditions, of the main plant species found in the forests throughout the Iberian Peninsula. Data shows the tendency of forests to move higher in altitude and migrate towards the north.

The Atlas combines advanced methodologies and technologies such as GIS, multivariate statistics and interoperable geoportals to offer both rigorous cartographic standards and information for the general public.

Today, territory and species conservation managers need to rely on data and empirical methods on which to base their protection policies. Within the context of Global Change, the maps offered can be useful to evaluate possible changes in the distribution of forests in future, which could lead to an in depth study of mitigation and/or adaptation tools needed to face these changes.

The series of maps have been created to determine the degree of suitability to climate and/or topographic conditions of the forests’ main woody plants. With the help of these maps, one can verify, in an area of 200 metres, the topo-climatic suitability of the Iberian Peninsula. In addition, these values can be consulted for the current climatic scenario (1950-1998) and for future projections proposed by one of the foremost research centres dedicated to climate change, the Hadley Centre, located in Exeter, UK.

Some of the main features of the atlas include:
– Completeness: covering almost all woody species found in forests.
– Quality initial data: both the Digital Climate Atlas of the Iberian Peninsula (ACDPI) and the third National Forest Inventory are cartography databases with high spatial resolution and with proven data quality.
– Detailed resolution: 200m spatial resolution.
– Objectivity: numerical quality (known level of error) calculated and documented for each map.
– Interoperability: format in which maps can be viewed allows users to contrast information with other map databases.
– Accessibility: maps can be consulted online in GIS format without the need of additional installations.

The Atlas is available online at:

Source: Science Daily