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Bill Mason

DSc, BA, BSc, MICFor

Home Staff Bill Mason

Bill’s research interests centre on ways of adapting planted forests in upland Britain to the projected impacts of climate change and other hazards. Aspects considered in this activity include species choice, the role of mixtures in conifer forests, and the feasibility of greater use of Continuous Cover Forestry in planted forests for delivering a range of ecosystem services. As far as possible, he tries to use evidence from Forest Research’s long-term experiments to support this activity. Another long-standing area of interest is in the Native Pinewoods where he uses data from long-term plots to inform the development of appropriate silvicultural techniques for managing this forest type.

Bill Mason joined Forest Research in 1982 as a silviculturist specialising in forest nurseries and plant production. From 1991 until 2012, he directed silvicultural research first across upland Britain and later across the whole country. He became a research fellow in 2012.


  • Chair of the Continuous Cover Forestry Group
  • Member of the editorial board of Silva Fennica the International Forestry Review
  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters
  • Winner of the James Cup in 2009, 2016, and 2017 for the best article in the Quarterly Journal of Forestry
  • Co-chair of IUFRO working group 1-08 “Silviculture and ecology of spruces”
  • Winner of the 2012 Silvicultural Prize for the best article in Forestry
  • President’s Medal of the Institute of Chartered Foresters in 2013 and in 2018.
  • Winner of the Sir George Campbell Memorial Trophy for the best article in Scottish Forestry in 2013 and in 2018.
  • Research Associate of the University of Edinburgh
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Bill Mason

DSc, BA, BSc, MICFor
Emeritus Silviculturist (Research Fellow)

Forest Research

Northern Research Station


Midlothian EH25 9SY


Other Research

Managing resilient forests

Provide expert advice to others working on different aspects of the project

UK representative in the EU Cost Action on Non-Native Tree Species(NNext)

Peer reviewed journal articles

Peer reviewed papers

Coll, L., Ameztegui, A.,  Collet, C.,  Löf, M., Mason, B., Pach, M., Verheyen, K., Abrudan, I., Barbati, A., Barreiro, S., Bielak, K., Bravo-Oviedo, A., Ferrari, B., Govedar, Z., Kulhavy, J., Lazdina, D., Metslaid, M., Mohren, ., Pereira, M., Peric, S., et al. (2018) Knowledge gaps about mixed forests: What do European forest managers want to know and what answers can science provide? Forest Ecology and Management,   407, 106-115.

Mason, W.L. and Connolly, T. (2018) Nursing mixtures can enhance long-term productivity of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) stands on nutrient-poor soils. Forestry; 00, 1–12, doi:10.1093/forestry/cpx051

H. Jactel, E. S. Gritti, L. Drossler, D. I. Forrester, W. L. Mason, X. Morin, H. Pretzsch and B. Castagneyrol (2018) Positive biodiversity–productivity relationships in forests: climate matters. Biol. Lett. 14: 20170747.

Mason, W.L. Jinks, R., Savill, P., and Wilson, S.McG. (2018) Southern beeches (Nothofagus species). Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 112, 30-43.

Wilson, S. McG., Mason, W.L., Savill, P., and Jinks, R. (2018) Alternative oaks (Quercus spp.). Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 112, 93-105.

Mason, W.L., MacDonald, F., Parratt, M., and McLean, J.P. (2018) What alternative tree species can we grow in western Britain? 85 years of evidence from the Kilmun Forest Garden. Scottish Forestry, 72(1), 24-33.

Wilson, S. McG., Mason, W.L., Savill, P., and Jinks, R. (2018) Non-native alder species (Alnus ssp.). Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 112, 163-174.

Drossler, L., Agestam, E., Bielak, K., Dudzinska, M., Koricheva, J., Liziniewicz, M., Lof, M., Mason, B.,   Pretzsch, H., Valkonen, S., and Wellhausen, K. (2018) Over- and Underyielding in Time and Space in

Experiments with Mixed Stands of Scots Pine and Norway Spruce. Forests, 9, 495; doi:10.3390/f9080495

Savill, P., Stokes, V., Jinks, R., Mason, W.L. and Wilson, S.McG. (2018) Hybrid poplars and aspens. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 112, 237-248.

Davis, K.T.,  Callaway, R.M., Fajardo, A.,  Pauchard, A., Nuñez, M.A., Brooker, R.W., Maxwell, B.D., Dimarco, R.D., Peltzer, D.A., Mason, B., Ruotsalainen, S., McIntosh, A.C.S., Pakeman, R.J., Smith, A.L. and Gundale, M.J. (2018) Severity of impacts of an introduced species corresponds with regional eco-evolutionary experience. Ecography, 42: 1–11, doi: 10.1111/ecog.04014

Wilson, S.McG., Mason, W.L., Savill, P., and Jinks, R. (2017) Noble hardwood alternatives to ash. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 111, 166-182.

Savill, P., Wilson, S.McG., Mason, W.L., Jinks, R., Stokes, V., and Christian, T. (2017) Alternative spruces to Sitka and Norway: part 2: Oriental or Caucasian spruce (Picea orientalis), and the American and Asian spruces. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 111, 88-97.

Savill, P., Wilson, S.McG., Mason, W.L., Jinks, R., Stokes, V., and Christian, T. (2017) Alternative spruces to Sitka and Norway: part 1: Serbian spruce (Picea omorika). Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 111, 32-39.

Wilson, SMcG., Mason, WL, Jinks, R., Gil-Moreno, D., and Savill, P. (2016) The redwoods and red cedar – species, silviculture and utilisation potential. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 110, 244-256.

Gundale, M., Almeida, J.P., Wallander, H., Wardle, D.A., Kardol, P., Nilsson, M-C, Fajardo, A., Pauchard, A., Peltzer, D.A., Ruotsalainen, S., Mason, W.L. and Rosenstock, N. (2016) Differences in endophyte communities of introduced trees depend on the phylogenetic relatedness of the receiving forest. Journal of Ecology, 104, 1219-1232.

Mason, WL and Connolly, T. (2016) Long-term development of experimental mixtures of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and silver birch (Betula pendula Roth.) in northern Britain. Annals of Silvicultural Research, 40(1), 11-18

Savill, P., Wilson, S.McG., Mason, W.L., and Jinks, R. (2016) Silver firs (Abies spp.) of Europe and the Near-East: species, silviculture, and utilisation potential. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 110, 16-27.

Kerr, G., Stokes, V., Peace, A., Fletcher, A., Samuel, C.J.A., Mackintosh, H., and Mason, W.L. (2016) No seed zone effects on the survival, growth and stem form of Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis) in Britain. Can. J. For. Res. 46: 427–436 (2016)

Savill, P., and Mason, W.L. (2015) Pinus peuce Griseb., Macedonian or Balkan pine. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 109, 245-252.

Mason, W.L. (2015) Implementing Continuous Cover Forestry in planted forests: experience with Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in the British Isles. Forests, 6, 879-902.

Peter Brang; Peter Spathelf; J. Bo Larsen; Jurgen Bauhus; Andrej Boncina; Christophe Chauvin; Lars Drossler; Carlos Garcia-Guemes; Caroline Heiri; Gary Kerr; Manfred J. Lexer; Bill Mason; Frits Mohren; Urs Muhlethaler; Susanna Nocentini; Miroslav Svoboda. (2014) Suitability of close-to-nature silviculture for adapting temperate European forests to climate change. Forestry; doi: 10.1093/forestry/cpu018

Mason, W.L. (2014) Long-term development of nursing mixtures of Sitka spruce and larch species in an experiment in northern Scotland. Forest Systems, 23(3), 590-597.

Bravo-Oviedo, A., and 35 others including WLM. (2014) European mixed forests: definition and research perspectives. Forest Systems, 23(3), 518-533.

Mason, W.L. and O’Kane, S. (2014) The species composition and structure of the old conifer plantations at Loch Ossian, Corrour, north Scotland, a century after their establishment. Scottish Forestry, 68, 8-16.

Mason, W.L. and Mencuccini, M. (2013) Managing forests for ecosystem services – can spruce forests show the way? Forestry; doi:10.1093/forestry/cpu002.

Mason, W.L. and Connolly, T. (2013) Mixtures with spruce species can be more productive than monocultures: evidence from the Gisburn experiment in Britain. Forestry; doi: 10.1093/forestry/cpt042.

Mason, W.L. (2013) The role of true fir species in the silviculture of British forests: past, present, and future. Kastamonu Univ. , Journal of Forestry Faculty, 12 (3), Special Issue 2012, pp 15-26.

Meason, D.F. and Mason, W.L. (2013) Evaluating the deployment of alternative species in planted conifer forests as a means of adaptation to climate change—case studies in New Zealand and Scotland. Annals of Forest Science, DOI: 10.1007/s13595-013-0300-1.

Cameron, A.D. and Mason, W.L. (2013) Western hemlock: are we ignoring one of our most useful tree species? Scottish Forestry, 67, 10-14.

Carnus, J.-M., G. M. Hengeveld and B. Mason. (2012). Sustainability Impact Assessment of Forest Management Alternatives in Europe: an Introductory Background and FrameworkEcology and Society 17 (4): 49

Duncker, P. S., S. M. Barreiro, G. M. Hengeveld, T. Lind, W. L. Mason, S. Ambrozy and H. Spiecker. (2012). Classification of Forest Management Approaches: A New Conceptual Framework and Its Applicability to European ForestryEcology and Society 17 (4): 51

Mason, W.L., Petr, M., and Bathgate, S. (2012). Silvicultural theories for adapting planted forests to climate change: from theory to practice. Journal of Forest Science 58, 265-277.

Mason, W.L., McKay, H.M., Weatherall, A., Connolly, T., and Harrison, A.J. (2011). The effects of whole-tree harvesting on three sites in upland Britain on the growth of Sitka spruce over ten years. Forestry, doi: 10.1093/forestry/cpr064.

Mason, B., Edwards, C., and Hale, S.E. (2011). Continuous Cover Forestry in larch plantations: a case study in central Scotland. Scottish Forestry 65(3), 14-22.

Edwards, D., Jensen, F., Marzano, M., Mason, W.L., Pizzirani, S., and Schelhaas, M-J. (2011). A theoretical framework to assess the impacts of forest management on the recreational value of European forests. Ecological Indicators, (11), 81-89.

Mason, W.L. and Meredieu, C. (2011). Silvicultural strategies, sustainability, and adaptation to climate change in forests of the Atlantic region of Europe. Journal of Forest Planning, 16, 1-11.

Mason, W.L. and Perks, M.P. (2011). Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) forests in Atlantic Europe: changes in forest management and possible consequences for carbon sequestration. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, supplement 11, 72-81.

Macdonald, E., Gardiner, B.A., and Mason, W.L. (2010). The Effects of Transformation of Even-Aged Stands to Continuous Cover Forestry on Conifer Log Quality and Wood Properties in the UK. Forestry, doi:10.1093/forestry/cpp023

Book Chapters

Pach, M., Sansone, D., Ponette, Q., Barreiro, S., Mason, B., Bravo-Oviedo, A., Lof, M., Bravo, F., Pretzsch, H., Lesinski, J. et al. (2018) Silviculture of Mixed Forests: A European Overview of Current Practices and Challenges. In: A. Bravo-Oviedo et al. (eds.), Dynamics, Silviculture and Management of Mixed Forests, Managing Forest Ecosystems 31, Springer, pp 185-253.

Mason, W.L., Lof, M., Pach, M., and Spathelf, P. (2018) The Development of Silvicultural Guidelines for Creating Mixed Forests.  In: A. Bravo-Oviedo et al. (eds.), Dynamics, Silviculture and Management of Mixed Forests, Managing Forest Ecosystems 31, Springer, pp 255-270.

Mason, W. L. and Zhu, J. J. (2013) Silviculture of Planted Forests Managed for Multi-functional Objectives: Lessons from Chinese and British Experiences. In: Challenges and Opportunities for the World’s Forests in the 21st Century. T. Fenning (ed.). Springer, Dordrecht, pp37-54.

Mason, W.L. and Valinger, E. (2013) Managing forests to reduce storm damage. In: Living with storm damage to forests; B.A Gardiner, Schuck, A., Schelhaas, M-J, Orazio, C., Blennow, K., and Nicoll, B. (eds.). What Science Can Tell Us 3, EFI, Joensuu, Finland, pp 87-96.

FC/FR Publications

Grant, A., Worrell, R., Wilson, S. McG., Ray, D., and Mason, W.L. (2012) Achieving diversity in Scotland’s forest landscapes. Forestry Commission Scotland Practice Guide, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. 30 pp.

Mason, W.L. (2010). Respacing naturally regenerating Sitka spruce and other conifers (PDF-1995K). Forestry Commission Practice Note 16, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Contract/project reports

Mason, W.L. (2018) Forest Gardens find a renewed role in British forestry. CFA Newsletter, 85, 10-12.

Mason, W.L. and Ray, D. (2016) United Kingdom report. In: Non-native tree species for European Forests: experiences, risks, and opportunities. H. Hasenauer, Gadza, A., Konnert, M., Mohren, G.M.J., Potzelsberger, E., Spiecker, H., and van Loo, M. (eds). EU COST Action FP1403 Country Reports, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria, pp 361-368.

Arets, E., Palosuo, T., Moiseev, A., Nabuurs, G., Slimani, D., Olsmat, C., Laurijssen, J., Mason, B., McGowan, D. and Vötter, D. (2012). Reference futures and scenarios for the European FWC source databases (PDF-254K). EFI Technical report 85, European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland.

Edwards, D., Marzano, M., Jay, M., Jensen, F., Lucas, B., Mason, B., Montagne, C., Peace, P. and Weiss, W. (2012). Research protocol to derive recreational scores for European forest management alternatives. EFI Technical report 63, European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland.

Edwards, E., Mason, B., Pizzirani, S. and Schelhaas, M. (2012). Approaches to modelling impacts of forest management alternatives on recreational use of forests in Europe (PDF-150K).EFI Technical report 60, European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland.

Presentations at Scientific Conferences

At least 2-3 per year. The main recent ones are as follows:

Overyielding in long-term mixtures experiments in Britain: what influences the outcome? EUMixFor conference Prague 2016.

Silvicultural measures for promoting greater use of mixtures in planted forests. In session on ‘Engineering mixed planted forests for the provision of ecosystem services’ at Ecosummit, Montpellier, 2016.

Management options for (sustainably) intensifying production from planted forests: a European perspective. EFI Atlantic Scientific Seminar, Biarritz, May 2016.

Long-term mixture experiments in Britain: results and guidance for planted forests. British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Edinburgh, December 2015.

Mixture experiments in upland Britain: results and preliminary guidance. Institute of Chartered Foresters regional meeting, Aberdeen, December 2015.

Evaluating species suitability in a changing climate. Forestry Commission England Forest Health seminars, York and Newcastle, November 2015.

How experiments that investigated growing spruce in mixture changed British forestry – and what happened afterwards. IUFRO conference on growing spruces in mixed stands, Edmonton, Canada, August 2015.

Improving forest resilience by increasing tree species diversity: the role of Kilmun Forest Garden. Forestry Commission Forest Health day, Dunoon, Argyll, June 2015.

Transformation of even-aged forests in Britain: opportunities and risks. EUMixFor training school, Ebberswalde, Germany, November 2014.

Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) in Sitka spruce planted forests in Britain. IUFRO World Congress, Salt Lake City, USA, October 2014.