Bruce Nicoll, BSc, PhD, MSB

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 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 has included investigations 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 programme will assess and evaluate woodland and forest resilience in the context of sustainable forestry, ecosystem service provision and the wider mosaic of land-use.
  • It will explore 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.
  • An understanding of the spatial and temporal context of forests for ecosystem service provision will be developed. The programme 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.

Leads the Wind risk research project that released ForestGALES - a PC based wind-risk model for British forests.

Leads FR participation in 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 achievements

  • Reviews Editor for Forestry – An International Journal of Forest Research. 
  • Awarded the Institute of Chartered Foresters - Silviculture Prize, 2009
  • Deputy Coordinator of IUFRO Unit 8.03.06 “Impact of wind on forests”
  • Member of the Royal Society of Biology
  • Member of the International Society of Root Research
  • Member of Management Committee COST Action ES1203 SENSFOR: “Enhancing the resilience capacity of SENSitive mountain FORest ecosystems under environmental change”

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

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.

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 doi:10.1007/s10113-015-0852-8.

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, DOI 10.1007/s10113-014-0644-6.

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 (In press).

Moffat, A., Nisbet, T. and Nicoll, B. 2011. Environmental effects of stump and root harvesting (PDF-1244K). Forestry Commission Research Note 9. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

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: DOI 10.1007/s10342-010-0448-2  (Online first).

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. doi:10.1093/treephys/tpq022.

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.

Mason, W.L., Nicoll, B.C and Perks, M. (2009). Mitigation potential of sustainably managed forests.  In: Combating climate change: a role for UK forests.  An assessment of the potential of the UK’s trees and woodlands to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  Eds D.J. Read, P.H. Freer-Smith, J.I.L. Morison, N. Hanley, C.C. West and P. Snowdon.  The Stationery Office, Edinburgh. 100–118.

Jactel, H., Nicoll, B.C., Branco, M., Gonzalez-Olabarria, J.R., Grodzki, W., Långström, B., Moreira, F., Netherer, S., Orazio, C., Piou, D., Santos, H., Schelhaas, M.J., Tojic, K., and Vodde, F. (2009). The influences of forest stand management on susceptibility to biotic and abiotic risks of damage. Annals of Forest Science 66: 701 1-18.

Achim, A., and Nicoll, B.C. (2009). Modelling the anchorage of shallow-rooted trees. Forestry. 82: 273-284.

Nicoll, B.C., Achim, A, Crossley, A, Gardiner, B.A. and Mochan, S. (2009). The effects of spacing on root anchorage and tree stability. Scottish Forestry 63: 32-36.

Nicoll, B.C., Gardiner, B.A. and Peace, A.J. (2008). Improvements in anchorage provided by the acclimation of forest trees to wind stress. Forestry 81: 389-398.

Nicoll, B., Gardiner, B., Suarez, J and Bathgate, S. (2008). Managing wind risk to forests in northern Europe. In: Forest Research Annual Report and Accounts 2007-2008. p40. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Norris, J.E.; Stokes, A.; Mickovski, S.B.; Cammeraat, E.; van Beek, R.; Nicoll, B.C.; Achim, A. (Eds.). (2008). Slope stability and erosion control: Ecotechnological solutions. Springer. ISBN: 978-1-4020-6675-7.

Norris, J.E., Greenwood, J.R., Achim, A., Gardiner, B.A., Nicoll, B.C., Cammeraat, L.H. and Mickovski, S.B. (2008). Hazard Assessment of Vegetated Slopes. In: Norris, J.E.; Stokes, A.; Mickovski, S.B.; Cammeraat, E.; van Beek, R.; Nicoll, B.C.; Achim, A. (Eds.). Slope stability and erosion control: Ecotechnological solutions. Springer. p 119 – 166.

Norris, J.E., Di Iorio, A., Stokes, A., Nicoll, B.C. and Achim, A. (2008). Species Selection for Soil Reinforcement and Protection. In: Norris, J.E.; Stokes, A.; Mickovski, S.B.; Cammeraat, E.; van Beek, R.; Nicoll, B.C.; Achim, A. (Eds.). Slope stability and erosion control: Ecotechnological solutions. Springer. p 167 – 210.

Andreu, V., Khuder, H., Mickovski, S., Spanos, I., Norris, J., Dorren, L., Nicoll, B.C., Achim, A., Rubio, J.L., Jouneau, L. and Berger, F. (2008). Ecotechnological Solutions for Unstable Slopes: Ground Bio- and Eco-engineering Techniques and Strategies. In: Norris, J.E.; Stokes, A.; Mickovski, S.B.; Cammeraat, E.; van Beek, R.; Nicoll, B.C.; Achim, A. (Eds.). Slope stability and erosion control: Ecotechnological solutions. Springer. p 211– 276.

Tobin, B., Čermák, J., Chiatante, D., Danjon, F., Di Iorio, A., Dupuy, L., Eshel, A., Jourdan, C., Kalliokoski, T., Laiho, R., Nadezhdina, N., Nicoll, B., Pagès, L., Silva, J., Spanos, I. (2007). Towards developmental modelling of tree root systems. Plant Biosystems 141: 481-501.

Nicoll, B.C. and Gardiner, B.A. (2006). The effects of increased wind action on the radial growth of tree stems and structural roots. In:  Lenart Salmén (Ed.). Proceedings of the 5th Plant Biomechanics Conference – Stockholm, 2006. 281-286.

Gardiner, B., Suarez, J., Achim, A., Hale, S. and Nicoll, B. (2006). ForestGALES – A PC-based wind risk model for British forests. User’s Guide. Version 2.1. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. 54pp.

Nicoll, B.C., Berthier, S., Achim, A., Gouskou, K., Danjon, F., and van Beek, L.P.H. (2006). The architecture of Picea sitchensis structural root systems on horizontal and sloping terrain. Trees – Structure and Function. 20: 701-712.

Nicoll, B.C., Gardiner, B.A., Rayner, B. and Peace, A.J. (2006). Anchorage of coniferous trees in relation to species, soil type and rooting depth. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 36: 1871-1883.

Nicoll, B.C., Achim, A., Mochan, S. and Gardiner, B.A. (2005). Does steep terrain influence tree stability? A field investigation. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 35: 2360-2367.

Levy, P.E., Hale, S.E. and Nicoll, B.C. (2004). Biomass expansion factors and root : shoot ratios for coniferous tree species in Great Britain. Forestry  421-430.

Achim, A., Nicoll, B., Mochan, S. and Gardiner, B. (2003). Wind Stability of Trees on Slopes. In: Proceedings of the International conference Wind effects on trees, Karlsruhe, Germany 16-18 September 2003.

Nicoll, B. (2002). Urban trees fight back – The root cause of sidewalk damage. Tree Care Industry. February 2002.

Nicoll, B and Rayner, B. (2002). Mechanised planting: Planting quality and establishment of machine planted trees. Forestry and British Timber. December 2002.

Nicoll, B.C. (2000). The mechanical consequences of adaptive growth in roots. In: Plant Biomechanics 2000. Proceedings of  the 3rd Plant Biomechanics conference, Freibrg-Badenweiler, August 27 to September 2000. Eds H.C. Spatz and T Speck. 213-216.

Coutts, M.P., Nielsen, C.N. and Nicoll, B.C. (1999). The development of symmetry, rigidity and anchorage in the structural root system of conifers. Plant and Soil 217, 1-15.

Nicoll, B.C. and Armstrong, A. (1998). Development of Prunus root systems in a city street: Pavement damage and root architecture. Arboricultural Journal 22: 259-270.

Ray, D. and Nicoll, B.C. (1998). The effect of soil water-table depth on root-plate development and stability of Sitka spruce. Forestry 71: 169-182.

Nicoll, B.C. and Coutts, M.P. (1998). Timing of root dormancy and tolerance to waterlogging in clonal Sitka spruce. Trees – Structure and Function 12: 241-245.

Nicoll, B.C. and Ray, D. (1996). Adaptive growth of tree root systems in response to wind action and site conditions. Tree Physiology 16: 899-904.

Nicoll, B.C., Redfern, D.B. and McKay, H.M. (1996). Autumn frost damage: clonal variation in Sitka spruce. Forest Ecology and Management 80: 107-112.

Nicoll, B.C., Easton, E.P., Milner, A.D., Walker, C, and Coutts, M.P. (1995). Wind stability factors in tree selection: distribution of biomass within root systems of Sitka spruce clones. In: Wind and Trees. Eds. M.P. Coutts and J. Grace. Cambridge University Press.

Coutts, M.P. and Nicoll, B.C. (1993).  Orientation of the lateral roots of trees II. Hydrotropic and gravitropic responses of lateral roots of Sitka spruce grown in air at different humidities.  New Phytologist 124: 277-281.

Coutts, M.P. and Nicoll, B.C. (1991). Orientation of the lateral roots of trees I. Upward growth of surface roots and deflection near the soil surface. New Phytologist 119: 227-234.

Coutts, M.P. and Nicoll, B.C.  (1990).  Waterlogging tolerance of roots of Sitka spruce clones and of strands from Thelephora terrestris mycorrhizas. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20: 1894-1899.

Coutts, M.P. and Nicoll, B.C. (1990).  Growth and survival of shoots, roots and mycorrhizal mycelium in clonal Sitka spruce during the first growing season after planting.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20: 861-868.