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Silviculture research and services

Inspecting new native woodland plantingThe silvicultural research performed by staff in Forest Research aims to develop silvicultural techniques which help deliver sustainable forest management based on a scientific understanding of how forests function. We understand silviculture to be the theory and practice of manipulating forest establishment, composition and growth to meet a range of management objectives. The research has to be founded upon ecological and physiological understanding of tree growth and development over time. Therefore our activities involve all stages of tree and forest development and the impact of different strategies upon the outputs from forests – in other words ‘from plant to plank’.

Our researchers also provide unbiased scientific and technical advice to support the development of government forestry policy and offer advice internationally to foresters, woodland owners, nursery managers, seed collectors, other research establishments, universities and the general public.

The research coverage is broad, ranging through studying seed and seedlings, establishment and management systems, specific species and native woodlands, where the focus is often on woodland types rather than on species per se.

Products and services

Go to ForestGALESForestGALES
PC-based decision support tool enables forest managers to estimate the probability of wind damage to any conifer stand in Britain.This was one of the few products showcased at the Public Sector Research Establishment conference in April 2004

Go to Plant Quality Testing ServicePlant Quality Testing Service
For nursery managers and foresters to obtain information on the quality of their stock before planting.

Go to Herbicide AdvisorHerbicide Advisor
A web based expert system to advise on the relative efficacy of different herbicides for scenarios with a mix of weed and crop species, at varying times of the year.

Collaboration and partnerships

The nature of the issues being confronted suggests that it is not sensible for the programmes to be considered in isolation from research elsewhere in the European Union (EU) or other boreal or temperate zones.

Our researchers seek to actively develop appropriate partnerships with those working in parallel fields in other countries. We are currently involved in three major EU projects funded under the Fifth Framework programme and have had visiting scientists from a number of countries including China, Germany, France, Italy and Romania working with us in the last 12 months. We welcome contacts with researchers from other countries who are interested in potential collaboration with us.

Related resources

IconRelated publications


Research programmes

Silvicultural research contributes to programmes within:


The research is based both at Alice Holt and at the Northern Research Station:

  • Research at Alice Holt has an emphasis on lowland Britain, broad-leaved trees, their establishment and management, and on seed and seedlings
  • Research at the Northern Research Station covers the whole of Scotland and Wales and that part of England north of the Humber-Mersey line. The emphasis is upon research relevant to coniferous plantation forests and upon the main native woodland types in these regions, namely native pinewoods, birch woods, and upland oakwoods.

For further information contact:

Dr Helen McKay