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Management of upland native woodlands

Home research Management of upland native woodlands


This programme covers the upland native pinewoods, oakwoods, birchwoods and mixed ashwoods as described in the respective Forestry Practice Guides (see below).

Research objectives

  • To study the structure, composition and dynamics of upland native woodland ecosystems in order to evaluate the potential for utilising natural woodland processes, and mimicking natural woodland structure
  • To develop models which aid the ecological design of new native woodlands including methods of establishment, planting patterns, design and site variability
  • To investigate the reproductive biology of Scots pine, birch and oak in order to improve our ability to manipulate the process of natural regeneration
  • To develop environmentally benign methods of controlling unwanted vegetation in native woodlands – principally Rhododendron ponticum.

Programme description

Major elements of research are:

  • Stand Structure
    Description of the structure and composition of existing native woodland remnants. Evaluation of their value in terms of models for future woodland management.
  • Establishment Practice
    Studies of planting patterns, species composition and site suitability for component species and the interaction with conventional techniques such as cultivation and fertilisation.
  • Natural Regeneration
    Investigations of seed production patterns, seed dispersal and viability.
  • Long Term Monitoring Sites
    Establishment of permanent monitoring systems in representative areas of managed and unmanaged native woodland.
  • Ecological Site Classification (ESC)
    Evaluation of ESC as an aid to planning new native woodlands.
  • Rhododendron Control
    Efficacy trials of alternative methods for controlling the establishment and growth of Rhododendron in native woodlands.

Forestry Practice Guides

Other publications


For information on managing upland native woodlands contact:

Duncan Ray

For information on expanding upland native woodlands contact:

Ian Willoughby

Funders and partners

This research is funded by the Forestry Commission Regeneration and sustainable silviculture programme.

Forestry Commission policy

The aims of Government forestry policy attach particular importance to the conservation of existing semi-natural woodlands and the creation of new native woodlands (Sustainable Forestry: The UK Programme). Specific research needs relating to native woodlands have also been identified under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and are addressed within this programme. These relate mainly to the need to expand the range of long-term monitoring sites and to understand the process and rate of colonisation through natural regeneration.

What's of interest

The following publications are available from The Stationary Office:

Sustainable Forestry: The UK Programme

Biodiversity: the UK Action Plan

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