Bruce Nicoll, BSc, PhD, MRSB

Programme Manager

Bruce Nicoll


Twitter: @BruceNicoll1

Tel: +44 (0)300 067 5900
Tel direct: +44 (0)300 067 5287 
Fax: +44 (0)131 445 5124

Forest Research
Northern Research Station
Midlothian EH25 9SY

Bruce Nicoll has over 30 years forestry research experience. He has a BSc in Biological Sciences from Napier University, Edinburgh, and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences. The subject of his PhD was ‘The effects of soil, terrain and wind climate on tree root system development and anchorage’.

His research focusses on tree physiology, biomechanics, and climate change adaptation. He has investigated of tree root architecture and anchorage, the risk of wind damage to forests, how trees stabilise vulnerable slopes against landslides and erosion, and how forests can be adapted to be resilient to climate change.

Current role

Programme Manager

Leads the FR Assessing Resilience research programme: ‘ Assessing resilience and sustainability of woodlands and forests’.

This four-year FC funded programme assesses and evaluates woodland and forest resilience in the context of sustainable forestry, ecosystem service provision and the wider mosaic of land-use. It explores what contributes to resilience: how do forest ecosystems function and what are the risks to them; what are appropriate indicators of resilience, their use in detecting ecosystem instability; and what are the vulnerabilities of the forestry socio-ecological system. The programme is developing an understanding of the spatial and temporal context of forests for ecosystem service provision. It will provide tools to assess resilience across the range of functions of forests and woodlands in relation to climate change and policy and operational decisions.

Current projects

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Risk and resilience
  • Forests and slope stability.
  • Tree stability and Wind risk to forests. This project developed and released the successful ForestGALES wind risk decision support tool for British forests.
  • Forestry sector adaptation research for ClimateXChange, Scotland’s centre of expertise on climate change.

European projects

  • SENSFOR (EC COST Action ES1203) “Enhancing the resilience capacity of SENSitive mountain FORest ecosystems under environmental change”
  • MOTIVE (EC FP7). “Models for Adaptive Forest Management”. 2009-2013.
  • STORMS (EC DG Environment). “Destructive storms to European forests”. 2009-2010.
  • EFORWOOD (EC FP6). “Sustainability Impact Assessment of the Forestry – Wood Chain” WP2.4 – Risk. 2006 – 2010.
  • FORESTCLIM (EC Interreg North-West region). “Transnational Forestry Management Strategies in Response to Regional Climate Change Impacts 2008 – 2012.
  • ECHOES (EC COST Action FP0703) “Expected Climate Change and Options for European Silviculture” 2008-2012.
  • COST Action E38 (EC/ESF) “Woody Root Processes”. 2004-2008.
  • STORMRISK (EC Interreg North Sea Region) project. “Development of STORM resistant landscapes through regional co-operation, adapted management and RISK communication” 2006 – 2008.
  • ECOSLOPES (EC FP5). “Eco-engineering and conservation of slopes for long-term protection from erosion, landslides and storms.

Affiliations and responsibilities

Research areas

  • Adaptive forest management for climate change
  • Root physiology and tree establishment
  • Modelling of root architecture and tree stability
  • Root reinforcement and slope stability
  • Protection forestry
  • Tree biomechanics and acclimative growth

Main publications

Peer reviewed journals

Reyer, C.P.O., Bathgate, S., Blennow, K., Borges, J.G., Bugmann, H., Delzon, S., Faias, S.P., Garcia-Gonzalo, J., Gardiner, B., Gonzalez-Olabarria, J.R.,  Gracia, C., Hernández, J.G.,  Kellomäki, S., Kramer, K., Lexer, M.J., Lindner, M., van der Maaten, E., Maroschek, M,  Muys, B, Nicoll, B, Palahi, M, Palma, J.H.N., Paulo, J.A., Peltola, H., Pukkala, T., Rammer, W., Ray, D., Sabaté, S., Schelhaas, M-J., Seidl, R., Temperli, C., Tomé, M., Yousefpour, R., Zimmermann, N.E., Hanewinkel, M. (2017). Are forest disturbances amplifying or canceling out climate change-induced productivity changes in European forests? Environmental Research Letters 12 (3), 034027

Albrecht, A., Badel, E., Bonnesoeur, V., Brunet, Y., Constant, T., Défossez, P., De Langre, E., Dupont, S., Fournier, M., Gardiner, B.,  Mitchell, S.J., Moore, J.R., Moulia, B., Nicoll, B.C., Niklas, K.J., Schelhaas, M-J., Spatz, H-C., Telewski, F.W. (2016). Comment on “Critical wind speed at which trees break”. Physical Review E, 94 (6).

Meijer, G.J., Bengough, A.G., Knappett, J.A., Loades, K.W. and Nicoll, B.C. (2016). New in situ techniques for measuring the properties of root-reinforced soil – laboratory evaluation. Géotechnique, 66 (1), 27–40.

Locatelli, T. Gardiner, B. Tarantola, S. Nicoll, B. Bonnefond, J.M. Garrigou, D., Kamimura, K. and  Patenaude, G. (2016).  Modelling wind risk to Eucalyptus globulus ( Labill .) stands. Forest Ecology and Management, 365, 159 – 173.

Beauchamp, K., Batgate, S., Ray, D., Nicoll, B. (2016). Forest ecosystem service delivery under future climate scenarios and adaptation management options: a case study in central Scotland. Scottish Forestry 70(3): 30-41.

Meijer, G.J., Bengough, A.G., Knappett, J.A., Loades, K.W. and Nicoll, B.C. 2015. Comparison of new in situ root-reinforcement measuring devices to existing techniques. Slopes and Geohazards. Jan. 2015, 1621-1626.

Bouriaud, L., Marzano, M., Lexer, M., Nichiforel, L., Reyer, C., Temperli, C., Peltola, H., Elkin, C., Duduman, G., Taylor, P., Bathgate, S., Jose G. Borges, Clerkx, S., Garcia-Gonzalo, J., Gracia, C., Hengeveld, G., Kellomäki, S., Kostov, G., Maroschek, M., Muys, B., Nabuurs, G.J., Nicoll, B., Palahí, M., Rammer, W., Ray, D., Schelhaas, M-J., Sing, L., Tomé, M., Zell, J., & Hanewinkel, M. (2015). Institutional factors and opportunities for adapting European forest management to climate change. Regional Environmental Change 15 (8): 1595-1609.

Hale, S.A., Gardiner, B., Peace, A., Nicoll, B., Taylor, P., & Pizzirani, S. (2015). Comparison and validation of three versions of a forest wind risk model. Environmental Modelling & Software, 68, 27-41.

Ray, D., Bathgate, S., Moseley, D., Taylor, P., Nicoll, B., Pizzirani, S. & Gardiner, B. (2014). Comparing the provision of ecosystem services in plantation forests under alternative climate change adaptation management options in Wales. Regional Environmental Change, 15(8), 1501-1513. .

Jactel, H., Branco, M, Duncker, P., Gardiner, B., Grodzki, W., Långström, B., Moreira, F., Netherer, S., Nicoll, B., Orazio, C., Piou, D., Schelhaas, M-J. and Tojic, K. (2011). A multi-criteria risk analysis to evaluate impacts of forest management alternatives on forest health in Europe. Ecology and Society 17 (4), 52..

Hale, S.E., Gardiner, B.A. Wellpott, A. Nicoll, B.C. and Achim, A. (2011). Wind loading of trees: Influence of tree size and competition. European Journal of Forest Research: 131(1), 203-217..

Butler, A.J., Barbier, N., Cermák, J., Koller, J., McEvoy, C., Nicoll, B., Perks, M., Thornily, C., Grace, J., and Meir, P. (2010). Estimates and relationships between above and belowground resource exchange areas in a Sitka Spruce managed forest. Tree Physiology 30(6): 705-714.

Gardiner, B., Blennow, K., Carnus, J-M, Fleischer, P., Ingemarson, F., Landmann, G., Lindner, M., Marzano, M., Nicoll, B., Orazio, C., Peyron, J-L., Reviron, M-P., Schelhaas, M-J., Schuck, A., Spielmann, M., and Usbeck, T. (2010). Destructive Storms in European Forests: Past and Forthcoming Impacts. Final Report to EC DG Environment.

Book and book chapters

Lawrence, A. and Nicoll, B. (2016). Climate impacts and adaptations in forest management. In: Climate Change. Observed Impacts on Planet Earth. 2 nd edition. Edited by Trevor M. Letcher. Elsevier. 492 pp.

Nicoll B, Hale S, Gardiner B, Peace A and Rayner B. (2015). ForestGALES A wind risk decision support tool for forest management in Britain. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Moffat, A., Nisbet, T. and Nicoll, B. 2011. Environmental effects of stump and root harvesting. Forestry Commission Research Note 9. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Trade journal and newsletter articles

Steward, G. and Nicoll, B. (2016). Blowing in the wind. Viewpoint article,  Insurance Day Magazine. 30 November 2016.

Hale, S., Nicoll, B. and Martin, S. (2015). Improvements to ForestGALES – The forest wind risk tool. Forestry and Timber News. October 2015.

Full publications list