Bill Mason, DSc, BA, BSc, MICFor

Emeritus Silviculturist (Research Fellow)

Bill Mason


Tel: +44 (0)300 067 5900
Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5955
Fax: +44 (0)131 445 5124

Forest Research
Northern Research Station
Midlothian EH25 9SY

Bill Mason studied French and Spanish at Cambridge and Forestry at Bangor before undertaking postgraduate studies in tree physiology at Imperial College, London. He joined the Forestry Commission in 1977 and was a forest manager in East England and South Scotland before transferring into Forest Research in 1982. He was awarded a DSc by the University of Bangor in 2007.

During the 1980’s he was the project leader responsible for research on forest nursery production systems – much of the work is summarised in Forestry Commission Bulletin 111 ‘Forest Nursery Practice’. In 1992, after a secondment to the Scottish Office, he became Head of Silviculture (North) with oversight of all research programmes relating to the management of forests in northern and western Britain for multi-purpose benefits. He was responsible for the research programme on Alternative Silvicultural Systems for conifer forests with a particular emphasis on Continuous Cover Forestry.

From 2004-2009 he was Head of Forest Management Division with responsibility for leading the research programmes relevant to silviculture, conifer tree improvement, timber quality and technical development throughout Britain.

Since April 2009 he has taken on a new role with a particular emphasis on the links between species choice, silviculture and forest management in the light of anticipated climate change.

Current role

Senior Silviculturist (Emeritus)

Current programmes

  • Continuous cover silviculture
    Advice on the development of suitable stand management techniques for the transformation of conifer plantations to diverse and varied forests. Also carrying out research on mixed species stands in conifer forests.
  • Emerging species and provenance choice
    Project Advisor.
    Identifying and testing species and/or provenances that may be deployed in British forests as part of an adaptation strategy to projected climate change.
  • Management of long-term experiments
    Project Advisor.
    Oversight of long-term silvicultural experiments including species and provenance choice.
  • EUMixFOR
  • European mixed forests – Integrating scientific knowledge in sustainable scientific management (COST Action FP1206). UK member of the Action Management Committee.

Affiliations and achievements

  • Chair of the Continuous Cover Forestry Group
  • Member of the editorial board of Silva Fennica and the International Forestry Review
  • Member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters
  • Council member of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society
  • Winner of 2009 James Cup for best article in the Quarterly Journal of Forestry
  • Co-chair of IUFRO working group 1-08 “Silviculture and ecology of spruces”
  • Winner of the 2012 Silvicultural Prize for best article in Forestry
  • President’s Medal of the Institute of Chartered Foresters in 2013.
  • Winner of the Sir George Campbell Memorial Trophy for the best article in Scottish Forestry in 2013.
  • Member of the Advisory Board of the European Forestry Institute Atlantic Regional Office (EFI/Atlantic)

Research areas

  • Silvicultural systems for conifer forests
  • Mixed species stands and species choice
  • Long-term field experiments

Main recent publications

Mason, WL and Connolly, T. (2016) Long-term development of experimental mixtures of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and silver birch (Betula pendula Roth.) in northern Britain. Annals of Silvicultural Research, 40(1), 11-18

Mason, W.L. and Ray, D. (2016) United Kingdom report. In: Non-native tree species for European Forests: experiences, risks, and opportunities. H. Hasenauer, Gadza, A., Konnert, M., Mohren, G.M.J., Potzelsberger, E., Spiecker, H., and van Loo, M. (eds). EU COST Action FP1403 Country Reports, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria, pp 361-368.

Savill, P., Wilson, S.McG., Mason, W.L., and Jinks, R. (2016) Silver firs (Abies spp.) of Europe and the Near-East: species, silviculture, and utilisation potential. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 110, 16-27.

Kerr, G., Stokes, V., Peace, A., Fletcher, A., Samuel, C.J.A., Mackintosh, H., and Mason, W.L. (2016) No seed zone effects on the survival, growth and stem form of Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis) in Britain. Can. J. For. Res. 46: 427–436 (2016)

Savill, P., and Mason, W.L. (2015) Pinus peuce Griseb., Macedonian or Balkan pine. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 109, 245-252.

Mason, W.L. (2015) Implementing Continuous Cover Forestry in planted forests: experience with Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in the British Isles. Forests, 6, 879-902.

Peter Brang; Peter Spathelf; J. Bo Larsen; Jurgen Bauhus; Andrej Boncina; Christophe Chauvin; Lars Drossler; Carlos Garcia-Guemes; Caroline Heiri; Gary Kerr; Manfred J. Lexer; Bill Mason; Frits Mohren; Urs Muhlethaler; Susanna Nocentini; Miroslav Svoboda. (2014) Suitability of close-to-nature silviculture for adapting temperate European forests to climate change. Forestry; doi: 10.1093/forestry/cpu018

Mason, W.L. (2014) Long-term development of nursing mixtures of Sitka spruce and larch species in an experiment in northern Scotland. Forest Systems, 23(3), 590-597.

Bravo-Oviedo, A., and 35 others including WLM. (2014) European mixed forests: definition and research perspectives. Forest Systems, 23(3), 518-533.

Mason, W.L. and O’Kane, S. (2014) The species composition and structure of the old conifer plantations at Loch Ossian, Corrour, north Scotland, a century after their establishment. Scottish Forestry, 68, 8-16.

Mason, W. L. and Zhu, J. J. (2013) Silviculture of Planted Forests Managed for Multi-functional Objectives: Lessons from Chinese and British Experiences. In: Challenges and Opportunities for the World’s Forests in the 21st Century. T. Fenning (ed.). Springer, Dordrecht, pp37-54.

Mason, W.L. and Valinger, E. (2013) Managing forests to reduce storm damage. In: Living with storm damage to forests; B.A Gardiner, Schuck, A., Schelhaas, M-J, Orazio, C., Blennow, K., and Nicoll, B. (eds.). What Science Can Tell Us 3, EFI, Joensuu, Finland, pp 87-96.

Mason, W.L. and Mencuccini, M. (2013) Managing forests for ecosystem services – can spruce forests show the way? Forestry; doi:10.1093/forestry/cpu002.

Mason, W.L. and Connolly, T. (2013) Mixtures with spruce species can be more productive than monocultures: evidence from the Gisburn experiment in Britain. Forestry; doi: 10.1093/forestry/cpt042.

Mason, W.L. (2013) The role of true fir species in the silviculture of British forests: past, present, and future. Kastamonu Univ. , Journal of Forestry Faculty, 12 (3), Special Issue 2012, pp 15-26.

Meason, D.F. and Mason, W.L. (2013) Evaluating the deployment of alternative species in planted conifer forests as a means of adaptation to climate change—case studies in New Zealand and Scotland. Annals of Forest Science, DOI: 10.1007/s13595-013-0300-1.

Cameron, A.D. and Mason, W.L. (2013) Western hemlock: are we ignoring one of our most useful tree species? Scottish Forestry, 67, 10-14.

Grant, A., Worrell, R., Wilson, S. McG., Ray, D., and Mason, W.L. (2012) Achieving diversity in Scotland’s forest landscapes. Forestry Commission Scotland Practice Guide, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. 30 pp.  

Carnus, J.-M., G. M. Hengeveld and B. Mason. (2012). Sustainability Impact Assessment of Forest Management Alternatives in Europe: an Introductory Background and Framework. Ecology and Society 17 (4): 49. [online] URL:

Duncker, P. S., S. M. Barreiro, G. M. Hengeveld, T. Lind, W. L. Mason, S. Ambrozy and H. Spiecker. (2012). Classification of Forest Management Approaches: A New Conceptual Framework and Its Applicability to European Forestry. Ecology and Society 17 (4): 51. [online] URL:

Arets, E., Palosuo, T., Moiseev, A., Nabuurs, G., Slimani, D., Olsmat, C., Laurijssen, J., Mason, B., McGowan, D. and Vötter, D. (2012). Reference futures and scenarios for the European FWC source databases (PDF-254K).  EFI Technical report 85, European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland.

Edwards, D., Marzano, M., Jay, M., Jensen, F., Lucas, B., Mason, B., Montagne, C., Peace, P. and Weiss, W. (2012). Research protocol to derive recreational scores for European forest management alternatives. EFI Technical report 63, European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland.

Edwards, E., Mason, B., Pizzirani, S. and Schelhaas, M. (2012).  Approaches to modelling impacts of forest management alternatives on recreational use of forests in Europe (PDF-150K). EFI Technical report 60, European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland. 

Mason, W.L., Petr, M., and Bathgate, S. (2012). Silvicultural theories for adapting planted forests to climate change: from theory to practice. Journal of Forest Science 58, 265-277.

Mason, W.L., McKay, H.M., Weatherall, A., Connolly, T., and Harrison, A.J. (2011). The effects of whole-tree harvesting on three sites in upland Britain on the growth of Sitka spruce over ten years. Forestry, doi: 10.1093/forestry/cpr064.

Mason, B., Edwards, C., and Hale, S.E. (2011). Continuous Cover Forestry in larch plantations: a case study in central Scotland. Scottish Forestry 65(3), 14-22.

Edwards, D., Jensen, F., Marzano, M., Mason, W.L., Pizzirani, S., and Schelhaas, M-J. (2011). A theoretical framework to assess the impacts of forest management on the recreational value of European forests. Ecological Indicators, (11), 81-89.

Mason, W.L. and Meredieu, C. (2011). Silvicultural strategies, sustainability, and adaptation to climate change in forests of the Atlantic region of Europe. Journal of Forest Planning, 16, 1-11.

Mason, W.L. and Perks, M.P. (2011). Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) forests in Atlantic Europe: changes in forest management and possible consequences for carbon sequestration. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, supplement 11, 72-81.

Macdonald, E., Gardiner, B.A., and Mason, W.L. (2010). The Effects of Transformation of Even-Aged Stands to Continuous Cover Forestry on Conifer Log Quality and Wood Properties in the UK. Forestry, doi:10.1093/forestry/cpp023

Mason, W.L. (2010). Respacing naturally regenerating Sitka spruce and other conifers (PDF-1995K). Forestry Commission Practice Note 16, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Hale, S E., Edwards, C., Mason, W.L., Price, M., and Peace, A. (2009). Relationships between canopy transmittance and stand parameters in Sitka spruce and Scots pine stands in Britain. Forestry  82(5):503-513.

Mason, W.L. and Glenny, I.J. (2009). Implementing continuous cover forestry in a mixed broadleaved woodland in north Nottinghamshire; results after twenty years. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 103, 185-193.

Mason, W.L., Nicoll, B.C., and Perks, M.P. (2009). Mitigation potential of sustainably managed forests. In: Combating Climate Change – a role for UK forests: main report. The Stationery Office, London. pp 100-118.

Mason, W.L., Jinks, R.L. and Harrison, A.J. (2008). An Overview of Long-term Forest Experiments in Great Britain managed by Forest Research. In: Karlsson, Kristian (eds.). 2008. Long-Term Field Experiments in Forest Research. Metlan työraportteja / Working Papers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute 105. 47 s. ISBN 978-951-40-2144-2 (PDF).

Mason, W.L. (2008). Natural regeneration of Sitka spruce in the Forest of Ae: development over 25 years. Scottish Forestry, 62, 2-9.

Mason, W.L., Connolly, T., Pommerening, A., and Edwards, C. (2007). Spatial structure of semi-natural and plantation stands of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) in northern Scotland. Forestry, 80(5), 567-586.

Mason, W.L. (2007). Silviculture of Scottish forests at a time of change. Journal of Sustainable Forestry, 24, 41-57.

Mason, W.L. (2007). Changes in the management of British forests between 1945 and 2000 and possible future trends. Ibis, 149, (Suppl. 2), 41–52.

Mason, W.L., Dedrick, S., Dittrich, F., Droste, C., Kennedy, S., Ni Dhubhain, A., Soalleiro, R.R., Skovsgaard, J-P., Slodicak, M., Spiecker, H., Stahr, J. Stefanik, I., and von Teuffel, K.  (2007).  Forest Production. In: EFI Discussion Paper 13, European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland, pp 33-36.

Edwards, C., and Mason, W.L. (2006) .Stand structure and dynamics of four native Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) woodlands in northern Scotland. Forestry, 79, 261-277.

Mason, W.L. (2006). Managing mixed stands of conifers and broadleaves in upland forests in Britain. Forestry Commission Information Note 63, Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Mason, W.L. (2006). Transformation of conifer plantations to mixed forests: initial guidance from an experiment in Wykeham forest, North Yorkshire. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 1-12.

Gabriel, K., Blair, I., and Mason, W.L. (2005). Growing broadleaved trees on the North York Moors: results after nearly 50 years. Quarterly Journal of Forestry, 99, 21-30.

Mason, W.L., Kerr, G., Pommerening, A., Edwards, C., Hale, S.E., Ireland, D., and Moore, R. (2005). Continuous Cover Forestry in British conifer forests. Forest Research Annual Report 2003-2004, 38-53.

Jones, H.E., McNamara, N., and Mason, W.L. (2005). Functioning of mixed-species stands: evidence from a long-term forest experiment. In: Ecological Studies 176. Forest Diversity and Function: Temperate and Boreal Systems. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. Pp 111-130.