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

09.05.2017 - 12.05.2017

EFIATLANTIC and IEFC held their Annual Meeting in Edinburgh and the West Coast of Scotland from 9th to 11th May this year.

Venue: Edinburgh Capital Hotel

 /files/images/efiatlantic/events/edinburgh_airport.jpg : 51Kb


/files/images/efiatlantic/events/seminar_group_photo.jpg : 169Kb

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

It was hosted and co-organised by network member Forest Research with financial support from Forestry Commission Scotland.

/files/images/efiatlantic/logos/forestresearchlogo_websize.jpg : 18Kb
/files/images/efiatlantic/logos/forestry_commission_scotland_2.png : 19Kb



Some background

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. 

The event 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.


Internal Business Session

The event started with an internal business session reporting all the project and publications achieved by EFIATLANTIC team with the support of other units and its networks such as IEFC, REINFFORCE,  GEFF, EVOLTREE and IUFRO taskforce on planted forest for greener future.

This session revealed how active the unit is in the field of resilience, being involved in initiatives on risk management and genetics in planted forests. Furthermore, as a consequence of the new EFI strategy on bioeconomy (alongside Resilience and Governance) and responding to the need for a better understanding of the expectations of the end users of our forest products, the unit engages more and more in the bioeconomy topic; for example, by developing close partnerships with clusters such a XYLOFUTUR.

This was also a chance for partners to network, identify future opportunities and prepare the development of the regional office within the new organisation of EFI.

/files/images/efiatlantic/events/annual_meeting_2017.jpg : 99Kb


Science Seminar: Role of Alternative Species in the Forests of Atlantic Europe

/files/images/efiatlantic/events/science_seminar_10052017_websize.jpg : 94Kb


The seminar offered an opportunity to have an overview of species managment in atlantic regionas and in particular in scotland.

It revealed that planted forests in Europe rely on a limited number of species and provenances, and that the past attempts to diversify have failed. In a context of climate change and increasing biotic risk, it concluded that more effort should be made to identify and promote appropriate material to ensure the resilence of future forests.



The field trip

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:

/files/images/efiatlantic/events/benmore_small.jpg : 106Kb

  • The Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh site at Benmore

/files/images/efiatlantic/events/kilmun_entrance_small.jpg : 99Kb

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

/files/images/efiatlantic/events/reinfforce_site_small.jpg : 92Kb

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


The field trip was a unique opportunity to see the tremendous effort carried out by Forest Research to assess the viability of alternative species to sitka spruce and larch. It showed that some of the past trials are still opening doors to further research and that long term trials should be maintained and more widely spread.

EFIATLANITC would like to thank event host Forest Research (in particular Bill Mason and Evelyn Hall) and the Forestry Commission Scotland for their valuable support in organising this event.


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)


/files/images/efiatlantic/events/benmore_group_websize.jpg : 106Kb







Stephanie Hayes

« Back