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Bruce Nicoll has over 30 years forestry research experience. He has a BSc in Biological Sciences from Napier University, Edinburgh, and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences.

His research focusses on tree physiology, biomechanics, and climate change adaptation. He has investigated of tree root architecture and anchorage, the risk of wind damage to forests, how trees stabilise vulnerable slopes against landslides and erosion, and how forests can be adapted to be resilient to climate change.

  • Adaptive forest management for climate change
  • Root physiology and tree establishment
  • Modelling of root architecture and tree stability
  • Root reinforcement and slope stability
  • Protection forestry
  • Tree biomechanics and acclimative growth


Principal Scientist
Climate change

Forest Research

Northern Research Station


Midlothian EH25 9SY


Related Research


SUPERB - Upscaling Forest Restoration

Forest Research, working with Forestry and Land Scotland, is leading a forest restoration Demo for the EU Horizon2020 “SUPERB” project. This demonstrates conversion to continuous cover forestry, establishment of high-elevation forests, and riparian woodlands with natural flood management measures, and will work with stakeholders to examine potential for upscaling.

Status upcoming


Climate change impacts

Examining the effects of climate change on woodland and forestry.

Status current
ClimateXChange (CXC)

A collaborative initiative between sixteen of Scotland’s leading research and higher education institutions undertaking work on climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy.

Models for adaptive forest management (MOTIVE)

This page summarises the work of the ‘Models for Adaptive Forest Management’ (MOTIVE) project, funded by the EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Transnational forestry management (ForeStClim)

This page summarises the main findings and recommendations of the ‘Transnational Forestry Management Strategies in Response to Regional Climate Change Impacts’ (ForeStClim) project, funded by the EU Interreg IVB North West Europe (NEW) programme.

Stump harvesting

Guidance developed by Forest Research on the selection of suitable sites for stump harvesting, best practice to maintain sustainable forest management, and research to quantify the risks to soils

Expected climate change and options for EU silviculture (ECHOES)

This page summarises research and outputs from the ‘Expected climate change and options for EU silviculture’ (ECHOES) project, funded by the EU-funded COST programme.

Improving the ecological content of Forest Plans

A case study from Glen Affric - May 2008

Development of storm resistant landscapes (STORMRISK)

Intrerreg North Sea Region project: Development of STORM resistant landscapes through regional co-operation, adapted management and RISK communication

Eco-engineering and conservation of slopes (ECOSLOPES)

Techniques and tools to improve slope stability and reduce soil erosion

Tree stability and wind risk to forests

Management tools, advice and research to reduce and manage wind damage to British forests

Climate change adaptation

How woodland management can adapt in anticipation of climate change

Related Publications


Factsheet: Climate change adaptation

The changing climate is affecting our trees, forests and woodlands, how they grow and survive and the important ecosystem services they provide. For our forests and woodlands to thrive, adaptation measures must be considered carefully, and action taken. Ten measures to reduce climate risks and improve resilience are presented.



Potential for woodland restoration above the A83 in Glen Croe to reduce the incidence of water erosion and debris flows

By Bill Rayner and Bruce Nicoll This assessment was instigated by Forestry Commission Scotland, with the aim of appraising the suitability of the hill watershed directly above the A83 at the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ in Glen Croe for tree planting and the potential for the trees and shrubs to reduce the incidence of debris flows […]


Other Research

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Risk and resilience
  • Forests and slope stability.
  • Tree stability and Wind risk to forests. This project developed and released the successful ForestGALES wind risk decision support tool for British forests.
  • Forestry sector adaptation research for ClimateXChange, Scotland’s centre of expertise on climate change.

European projects

  • SENSFOR (EC COST Action ES1203) “Enhancing the resilience capacity of SENSitive mountain FORest ecosystems under environmental change”
  • MOTIVE (EC FP7). “Models for Adaptive Forest Management”. 2009-2013.
  • STORMS (EC DG Environment). “Destructive storms to European forests”. 2009-2010.
  • EFORWOOD (EC FP6). “Sustainability Impact Assessment of the Forestry – Wood Chain” WP2.4 – Risk. 2006 – 2010.
  • FORESTCLIM (EC Interreg North-West region). “Transnational Forestry Management Strategies in Response to Regional Climate Change Impacts 2008 – 2012.
  • ECHOES (EC COST Action FP0703) “Expected Climate Change and Options for European Silviculture” 2008-2012.
  • COST Action E38 (EC/ESF) “Woody Root Processes”. 2004-2008.
  • STORMRISK (EC Interreg North Sea Region) project. “Development of STORM resistant landscapes through regional co-operation, adapted management and RISK communication” 2006 – 2008.
  • ECOSLOPES (EC FP5). “Eco-engineering and conservation of slopes for long-term protection from erosion, landslides and storms.

Peer reviewed journal articles

Peer reviewed journal articles

Gardiner, B., Achim, A., Nicoll, B., and Ruel, J-C. (2019). Understanding the interactions between wind and trees: an introduction to the IUFRO 8th Wind and Trees Conference. Forestry 92, 375-380.

Nicoll, B.C., Connolly, T., and Gardiner, B.A. (2019). Changes in spruce growth and biomass allocation following thinning and guying treatments. Forests 10 (3), 253.

Meijer, G-J., Bengough, G., Knappett, J., Loades, K.W., and Nicoll, B.C. (2018). In situ measurement of root-reinforcement using the corkscrew extraction method.  Canadian Geotechnical Journal 55 (10). 1372-1390

Reyer, C.P.O., Bathgate, S., Blennow, K., Borges, J.G., Bugmann, H., Delzon, S., Faias, S.P., Garcia-Gonzalo, J., Gardiner, B., Gonzalez-Olabarria, J.R., Gracia, C., Hernández, J.G., Kellomäki, S., Kramer, K., Lexer, M.J., Lindner, M., van der Maaten, E., Maroschek, M, Muys, B, Nicoll, B, Palahi, M, Palma, J.H.N., Paulo, J.A., Peltola, H., Pukkala, T., Rammer, W., Ray, D., Sabaté, S., Schelhaas, M-J., Seidl, R., Temperli, C., Tomé, M., Yousefpour, R., Zimmermann, N.E., Hanewinkel, M. (2017). Are forest disturbances amplifying or cancelling out climate change-induced productivity changes in European forests? Environmental Research Letters 12 (3), 034027

Albrecht, A., Badel, E., Bonnesoeur, V., Brunet, Y., Constant, T., Défossez, P., De Langre, E., Dupont, S., Fournier, M., Gardiner, B., Mitchell, S.J., Moore, J.R., Moulia, B., Nicoll, B.C., Niklas, K.J., Schelhaas, M-J., Spatz, H-C., Telewski, F.W. (2016). Comment on “Critical wind speed at which trees break”. Physical Review E, 94 (6).

Meijer, G.J., Bengough, A.G., Knappett, J.A., Loades, K.W. and Nicoll, B.C. (2016). New in situ techniques for measuring the properties of root-reinforced soil – laboratory evaluation. Géotechnique, 66 (1), 27–40.

Locatelli, T. Gardiner, B. Tarantola, S. Nicoll, B. Bonnefond, J.M. Garrigou, D., Kamimura, K. and Patenaude, G. (2016). Modelling wind risk to Eucalyptus globulus ( Labill .) stands. Forest Ecology and Management, 365, 159 – 173.

Beauchamp, K., Bathgate, S., Ray, D., Nicoll, B. (2016). Forest ecosystem service delivery under future climate scenarios and adaptation management options: a case study in central Scotland. Scottish Forestry 70(3): 30-41.

Meijer, G.J., Bengough, A.G., Knappett, J.A., Loades, K.W. and Nicoll, B.C. 2015. Comparison of new in situ root-reinforcement measuring devices to existing techniques. Slopes and Geohazards. Jan. 2015, 1621-1626.

Bouriaud, L., Marzano, M., Lexer, M., Nichiforel, L., Reyer, C., Temperli, C., Peltola, H., Elkin, C., Duduman, G., Taylor, P., Bathgate, S., Jose G. Borges, Clerkx, S., Garcia-Gonzalo, J., Gracia, C., Hengeveld, G., Kellomäki, S., Kostov, G., Maroschek, M., Muys, B., Nabuurs, G.J., Nicoll, B., Palahí, M., Rammer, W., Ray, D., Schelhaas, M-J., Sing, L., Tomé, M., Zell, J., & Hanewinkel, M. (2015). Institutional factors and opportunities for adapting European forest management to climate change. Regional Environmental Change 15 (8): 1595-1609.

Hale, S.A., Gardiner, B., Peace, A., Nicoll, B., Taylor, P., & Pizzirani, S. (2015). Comparison and validation of three versions of a forest wind risk model. Environmental Modelling & Software, 68, 27-41.

Ray, D., Bathgate, S., Moseley, D., Taylor, P., Nicoll, B., Pizzirani, S. & Gardiner, B. (2014). Comparing the provision of ecosystem services in plantation forests under alternative climate change adaptation management options in Wales. Regional Environmental Change, 15(8), 1501-1513. .

Jactel, H., Branco, M, Duncker, P., Gardiner, B., Grodzki, W., Långström, B., Moreira, F., Netherer, S., Nicoll, B., Orazio, C., Piou, D., Schelhaas, M-J.and Tojic, K. (2011). A multi-criteria risk analysis to evaluate impacts of forest management alternatives on forest health in Europe. Ecology and Society 17 (4), 52.

Hale, S.E., Gardiner, B.A. Wellpott, A. Nicoll, B.C. and Achim, A. (2011). Wind loading of trees: Influence of tree size and competition. European Journal of Forest Research: 131(1), 203-217.

Butler, A.J., Barbier, N., Cermák, J., Koller, J., McEvoy, C., Nicoll, B., Perks, M., Thornily, C., Grace, J., and Meir, P. (2010). Estimates and relationships between above and belowground resource exchange areas in a Sitka Spruce managed forest. Tree Physiology 30(6): 705-714.

Gardiner, B., Blennow, K., Carnus, J-M, Fleischer, P., Ingemarson, F., Landmann, G., Lindner, M., Marzano, M., Nicoll, B., Orazio, C., Peyron, J-L., Reviron, M-P., Schelhaas, M-J., Schuck, A., Spielmann, M., and Usbeck, T. (2010). Destructive Storms in European Forests: Past and Forthcoming Impacts. Final Report to EC DG Environment.

Book and book chapters

Lawrence, A. and Nicoll, B. (2016). Climate impacts and adaptations in forest management. In: Climate Change. Observed Impacts on Planet Earth. 2nd edition. Edited by Trevor M. Letcher. Elsevier. 492 pp.

Nicoll B, Hale S, Gardiner B, Peace A and Rayner B. (2015). ForestGALES A wind risk decision support tool for forest management in Britain. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Moffat, A., Nisbet, T. and Nicoll, B. 2011. Environmental effects of stump and root harvesting. Forestry Commission Research Note 9. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Trade journal and newsletter articles

Steward, G. and Nicoll, B. (2016). Blowing in the wind. Viewpoint article, Insurance Day Magazine. 30 November 2016.

Hale, S., Nicoll, B. and Martin, S. (2015). Improvements to ForestGALES – The forest wind risk tool. Forestry and Timber News. October 2015.

Full publications list