Alternative models for productive upland forestry. Model 2: Sitka spruce mixtures with alternative conifers

Scott Wilson, Andrew David Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Upland forestry in Britain is currently dominated by two management models - (a) even-aged medium-rotation plantations of predominantly Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis [Bong.] Carr.) and (b) conservation or ecological restoration of native woodland with minimal production outputs. To meet emerging objectives and address current challenges to sustainable operation, a wider range of upland forestry management models should be considered. Emerging objectives include mitigation of climate change by enhanced carbon sequestration and increased production of woodfuel biomass, alongside ecological restoration and enhanced rural development forestry benefits. Key challenges include impacts of predicted climate change, incidence of novel pests and diseases in existing stands and the need to ensure a sustainable long-term relationship between forest productivity and site, soil and freshwater resources. Deployment of mixed-species stands comprising Sitka spruce and one or more alternative productive conifers, potentially capable of completing the rotation, offers the opportunity to enhance inherent stand resilience while retaining the option of a final crop of the species that is currently preferred by many processors. A recent scoping study has evaluated the principal advantages and challenges associated with this alternative model, considering Norway spruce (Picea abies L.), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla [Raf.] Sarg.), silver firs (Abies spp.) and western red cedar (Thuja plicata Don ex D. Don) as the most likely “companion conifers” to Sitka spruce. Key requirements for research and development are discussed, which would be essential to support wider and more confident operational adoption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalScottish Forestry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance provided by the Scottish Forestry Trust in terms of a small project research grant in support of the 2014 scoping study under-pinning this paper. The Technical Report from the scoping study and associated research bibliography, together with information about the wider work of the Scottish Forestry Trust, is available from their website at The authors would also
like to thank relevant staff of Forestry Commission England, Forestry Commission Scotland, Natural Resources Wales and UPM Tilhill who provided much useful information as to the whereabouts of relevant mixed-species stands on their forestry holdings.


  • Upland forestry
  • Sitka Spruce mixtures
  • Alternative Conifers
  • Britain
  • Forestry management models
  • Climate Change


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