Role of Alternative Species in the Forests of Atlantic Europe - EFIATLANTIC & IEFC 2017 Annual Meeting

09.05.2017 - 12.05.2017

EFIATLANTIC and IEFC explored the role of alternative species in the forests of Atlantic Europe at their Annual Meeting in Edinburgh and the West Coast of Scotland from 9th to 11th May this year.

Venue: Edinburgh Capital Hotel

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The Role of Alternative Species in the Forests of Atlantic Europe

The forests of Atlantic Europe are important as a source of raw materials for major timber-using industries and provide a wide range of benefits such as recreation, conservation, water management, rural employment and carbon sequestration.

However, these forests are typically dominated by a few fast growing species such as Eucalyptus, radiata pine, maritime pine and Sitka spruce. In recent times, the impacts of pests and diseases, windthrow and climate change are becoming increasingly evident. 

To achieve more resilient forests now and in the future requires the use of a wider range of tree species and appropriate silvicultural management. 

This issue was discussed at the 2017 joint EFIATLANTIC and IEFC meeting in Edinburgh and the West Coast of Scotland on 9-11 May. The event was hosted and co-organised by network member Forest Research with financial support from Forestry Commission Scotland.

The meeting coincided with a period when Scotland is seeking to expand and further invigorate its forest industry: in 2016, the Scottish Government undertook a consultation on the Future of Forestry in Scotland.

Members of EFIATLANTIC and IEFC have done a significant amount of work to address species choice and forest management for the future, including the REINFFORCE project, a focus for alternative species work.  This year’s annual meeting considered the results of such work and addresed its implications for forest policy and practice.   

This included:

  • a review of the history of the use of alternative species both in Scotland and in Ireland;
  • an overview of the role of non-native species in Europe;
  • the implications of species diversification for forest genetics and timber-using industries.

The seminar was followed by a rare opportunity to visit forest sites and experiments in the West Coast of Scotland, providing the opportunity to consider future species selection and silviculture at some unique forestry locations:

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  • The Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh site at Benmore

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  • Long established Forest Research tree species trial at Kilmun on the Cowal Peninsula

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  • Isle of Mull to see the REINFFORCE alternative species experiment and a short rotation forestry trial


The meeting welcomed around 50 researchers, policy makers and practising foresters from 7 countries.

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Download the overall Event Schedule

Download the Scientific Seminar programme

Download the Business Meeting agenda


Science Seminar presentations:


Open Forum presentations:

  • Assessing the potential of alternative species to provide increased resilience to biotic and abiotic threats to plantation forests in Ireland. Richard Walsh, Andrew Cameron, and Niall Farrrelly (Teagasc, Ireland and Aberdeen University, Scotland)
  • Stakeholder perspectives on using more diverse and ‘alternative’ conifers in commercial forestry in Scotland. Anna Lawrence (University of Highlands & Islands)
  • Project LIFE Healthy Forests. Alejandro Cantero Amiano (HAZI Foundation, Spain)
  • Using phone apps for reporting forest damage. Eduard Mauri (EFIATLANTIC, France)
  • Conserving alternative tree species – the work of the International Conifer Conservation Programme. Martin Gardner (Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh)

  • Soil preparation for research on forest adaptation to climate change in France on a REINFFORCE demonstration site. Amélie Castro (CRPF, France) & Rebeca Cordero (EFIATLANTIC, France)
  • The National Forest Wood Plan (PNFB) in France – implications for planted forests. Jean-Michel Carnus (INRA, France)

  • Afforestation initiatives in Scotland. Brendan Callaghan (Forestry Commission Scotland)


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Stephanie Hayes

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