Continuous cover silviculture


KyloeContinuous cover is an approach to forest management that seeks to create more diverse forests, both structurally and in terms of species composition, by avoiding clearfelling. The development of more diverse forests is a sensible way to reduce the risks posed by future changes in the climate and biotic threats.

The aims of this research programme are to:

  • Carry out research to increase understanding and improve practice of transformation and continuous cover silviculture in British forests
  • Communicate with forest managers, policy makers and scientists
  • Provide research and technology transfer to supports the requirements of the country strategies in England, Scotland and Wales
  • Work with partners in the UK and abroad.

Research objectives

Continuous cover with Beech at Ebworth Estate

The medium term objectives are:

  • To define the best methods of transforming even-aged stands to more diverse structures and how these should vary for different species and site types.
  • To understand the best methods for developing mixed species stands and how these should vary for different regions and site types.
  • To understand the operational requirements of diversifying British forests.
  • Determine the key factors influencing the success of underplanting and investigate how will they be affected by climate change.

Work in the programme is divided into a number of projects and studies:


Gary Kerr

The following people also work on the programme:

Team members work closely with colleagues in the Technical Services and other parts of Forest Research.

Funders and partners

Forestry Commission logo
This research is funded by the Forestry Commission Regeneration and sustainable silviculture programme.

Scottish Forestry Trust logo EU flag
Other funders include the Scottish Forestry Trust and REINFFORCE (An INTERREG project of the EU).

The project works in close partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland at the Glentress CCF Trial Area and Forestry Commission Wales at Clocaenog CCF Research Area.  Two members of the team also sit on the Forestry Commission CCF Working Group.

Forestry Commission policy

Simple structure of Douglas fir at LongleatContinuous cover silviculture is now being widely practised in British forests and it has recentyl been estimated that greater than 10% of all Forestry Commission woodlands use it. There is no doubt that this percentage will increase because of policy developments. For example in Wales diversifying approaches to management is a key strategic objective in Woodlands for Wales (Forestry Commission Wales, 2009) that seeks to ‘avoid clearfelling on our own woodland estate whenever alternative management methods would deliver a wider range of ecosystem services’. In addition, the United Kingdom Woodland Assurance Scheme 2006 (UKWAS) requires forest managers to ‘increasingly favour’ CCF in windfirm conifer plantations and semi-natural woodland.

The Forestry Commission’s Science and Innovation strategy for British forestry (Forestry Commission, 2010) has recognised the changes outlined above and made diversifying approaches to forest management one of seven research themes.