Creating a permanent irregular forest: a review of the transformation at Faskally Forest, Perthshire

Andrew D. Cameron* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transformation at Faskally Forest was started in 1953 to study the conversion of predominately even-aged planted stands into ‘permanent’ irregular forests. The transformation was initially based on the group system involving a planned sequence of gaps cut into the canopy and planted with a range of mainly coniferous species. Records of the transformation from its early stages until the 1990s are sparse, and the lack of information on management interventions make it difficult to relate to the development of the forest structure over this period. Increasing interest in transformations in the 1990s saw a return to active management. The forest at this time had taken on an approximately all-aged, all sized appearance and the local foresters began to manage the area under the single tree selection system. More detailed objective data became available when a one hectare permanent sample plot was established in 1997 and complete inventories were carried out at six-year intervals to study the later stages of the transformation. The main concern at this time was the lack of regeneration and recruitment of saplings into the canopy. A phased opening of canopy to improve understorey light levels resulted in a significant increase in regeneration with shade tolerating species dominating the regeneration pool. Shade tolerating species are also gradually dominating the canopy where they are growing more quickly than light demanding species with increasing tree size—a common feature of advanced selection stands. Light demanding species are showing the opposite trend (growing more slowly with increasing tree size) as a result of pressures of competition within the canopy limiting growth potential. Even with a gradual shift in species composition, Faskally has many of the attributes associated with advanced irregular forests and that the transformation is probably close to, or indeed may have reached, a state that could be defined as ‘permanent’. Future management of the transformation is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalScottish Forestry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

The author would like to thank the staff of Tay Forest District, Forestry Commission Scotland, for their support over the years in carrying out this study and providing the 2014 sample plot data


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