Northern Forest | Images of Silviculture

Maturing cones, 2013 | Grand fir (Abies grandis) | Photo: E. R. Wilson

This page contains selected images from research projects, field trips and explorations in temperate and boreal (northern) forests. The aim is to present impressions of the structure and dynamic processes in forest ecosystems. Trees and natural woodlands often make fantastic subjects for photography. The gallery also showcases well-managed woodlands that, in their own way, can be quite beautiful. 

Image use: Requests to use photographs are welcome. Larger format and high resolution images can be provided free of charge for educational purposes; a fee may apply for commercial uses. For further information and permission to use images, please make contact here.

Unless otherwise stated, all images are copyright Edward R. Wilson/Silviculture Research International. Please email to advise if and where an image has been published. The suggested acknowledgement is: “Photo credit: © [year] E. R. Wilson/Silviculture Research International.”

Technical note: Most of the images here, and on this website, were taken with the following cameras: Nikon F80 (SLR), Nikon F100 (SLR), Nikon D3100 (DSLR). Lenses include fixed focal length and zoom models by Nikon and Sigma. As a back-up, I also use a Canon Digital Ixus 70, which still gives good results.

My favoured kit is the Nikon F100 + 50 mm lens. For many years, I used slide (colour positive) films, especially Agfa RSX 100 (Agfa Precisa 100/200 as alternatives). Since the demise of Agfa, I have switched to Kodak print (colour negative) film; Color Plus 200 film produces a slightly grainy and “retro” image. Films are processed and scanned to disk, then edited with MS Photo Manager.

GALLERIES: Gallery 01: Baronscourt | Gallery 02: Clora | Gallery 03: Devil’s Glen | Gallery 04: Penrith Area | Gallery 05: Loch Vaa Area | Gallery 06: Vale of Clara | Gallery 07: Darnaway | Gallery 08: CarrigshoukGallery 09: Ardennes Gallery 10: Davos Gallery 11: Coombs Wood


 

GALLERY 01

Baronscourt Estate, Northern Ireland | 03 06 2019

Baronscourt Estate is a recognised leader in Continuous Cover Forestry in the UK and Ireland, having adopted this approach in 2001. The estate includes approximately 1400 ha of woodland. From 1921, the majority of the woodland was on long-term lease to the Northern Ireland Forest Service. The Forest Service established large areas of Sitka spruce plantations to be managed on the clear-fell system. In recent years, the estate has been taking back control of the woodland as the leasing arrangement expires. By 2024, following felling of the final stands established by the Forest Service, all the of woodland will return to control and management by the estate. The CCF policy is being extended as the leased woodland comes back in hand.

Skill and experience in all aspects of CCF has been developed over the years. Some areas that have been clear-felled are demonstrating significant natural regeneration; this will form the basis of the transformation process, once the stands reach the point where thinning can be initiated. Other, more advanced areas are already developing an irregular structure, with significant natural regeneration now evident in the understorey. Production continues across the estate on a 4-year thinning cycle, ensuring a continuous output of timber. Conservation, habitat and amenity values are significantly enhanced due to the emerging structural diversity of the forest. Photos: Digital. 

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 GALLERY 02

Clora, County Wicklow, Ireland | 28 05 2019

This fine woodland in Wicklow is being managed on CCF principles. There are many vegetation types and stands from low to higher elevations, and on a range of soils. As thinning and small-coupe felling progresses, there is a proliferation of regeneration in the understorey. Among the species present are Scots pine, western hemlock, Douglas fir, noble fir, grand fir, European silver fir, western red cedar, larch and a full suite of native broadleaf tree species. Photos: Digital. 

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GALLERY 03 

Devil’s Glen Woods, County Wicklow, Ireland | 28 05 2019

This beautiful woodland covers the slopes of the Vartry valley near the village of Ashford, County Wicklow. This is one of the most wooded valleys in Ireland and contains a range of ecosystems and vegetation types, including an important native oak woodland. The woods to the west of the river (left of the photos) are owned by Coillte; to the east (right) by the Tottenham Estate. More information is here. Photos: Digital. 

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GALLERY 04

Penrith, Cumbria, England | 09 2015

These pictures were taken in two woodlands near Penrith, Cumbria during summer 2015. They show natural regeneration of different species in a range of canopy gaps. At the Beacon Wood, the dominant species is Scots pine. At Lowther Wood, the dominant species is western hemlock. Photos: Agfa Precisa 100 slide film, scanned, edited.  

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GALLERY 05

Loch Vaa, Cairngorms, Scotland | 08 2014

This pinewood is situated close to Loch Vaa, near the villages of Aviemore and Boat of Garten, Inverness-shire, Scotland. This stand is in the heart of Strathspey, where there are extensive areas of natural and planted pinewood, including the forests of Glenmore, Rothiemurchus, Abernethy and others. The pictures here demonstrate the silvicultural possibilities for managing Scots pine on an irregular shelterwood system, with profuse natural regeneration occurring in response to large canopy gap creation, mineral soil exposure for seed germination and the maintenance of good seed trees. Several interventions have taken place at intervals over 10-20 years leading to areas of more or less advanced regeneration, giving the forest a more natural appearance and diverse structure. In wet areas and hollows a range of other species are present, including birch, alder and associated understorey plants. Standing deadwood and coarse woody debris have been maintained for biodiversity conservation and habitat. Photos: Agfa RSX 100 slide film, scanned, edited.  

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 GALLERY 06

Vale of Clara, County Wicklow, Ireland | 18 05 2019

The Vale of Clara, in County Wicklow, is among the more densely wooded valleys in Ireland. There are many fine examples of Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF). The images here are from one of the most advanced woodlands, with a history of active CCF management over the past 15 years. The transformation to irregular structure is well underway. The dominant species is Douglas fir, but in the understorey there is a mix of at least 12 conifer and broadleaf species. Photos: Digital.

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GALLERY 07

Darnaway Forest, Morayshire, Scotland | 01 2019

Darnaway Forest is one of the best-known private woodlands in Scotland. It has been part of the Moray Estates for many centuries and has a management history stretching back to the dawn of scientific forestry. Many innovations in Scottish forestry practice were trialed and tested here. The legacy of careful past management is an expansive and diverse forest that generates a range of outputs, including high quality Douglas fir for local sawmills. The images here were taken in just one stand, close to the Darnaway estate sawmill, where continuous cover forestry is being applied to effect a transformation to irregular structure; stand management makes full use of the ecological properties and potential of this important species. There are some very good individual stems, now reaching optimum size for harvest, and also some very healthy patches of advanced natural regeneration. Although Douglas fir is the primary species within the stand, a number of other species make up the mix and are advancing into the future stand canopy. More on Moray Estates Woodlands here. Photos: Kodak ColorPlus 200 film, scanned, edited.

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GALLERY 08

Carrigshouk Hill, County Wicklow, Ireland | 02 08 2019

This remarkable stand of trees is located high in the Wicklow Mountains, near Sally Gap. The stand is mostly composed of Scots pine and European larch. The trees are of a considerable age; the management history is unclear but it is certainly a plantation that has extended far beyond its intended rotation length. The varied form and condition of the trees is beneficial for wildlife. There is a well-developed understorey, complete with regenerating seedlings and saplings, and coarse woody debris. Photos: Digital.

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GALLERY 09

Ardennes Region, Belgium | 20 01 2020

The images here are from a Continuous Cover Forestry Workshop organised by Forêt.Nature, at Marche-en-Famenne, Ardennes, Belgium. The Ardennes is a rural area mostly in eastern Belgium, but also in northern France. It is characterised by rolling hills and forests. There are extensive areas of well-managed woodland, much of it being transformed to an irregular structure, using CCF principles. A feature of many planted woodlands is that large blocks tend to have one dominant species (for example, Norway spruce) “punctuated” with small areas of other species, such as larch, oak and western hemlock. Originally these small areas were designed to provide cover for game and wildlife. Now they provide an important seed source that facilitates the transformation of stands to both multi-species and irregular-structure forests. The pictures here demonstrate some of the forestry practices and condition of several stands currently being transformed, with much evidence of natural regeneration. Photos: Digital, Nikon D3100.

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GALLERY 10

Davos, Switzerland | 20 08 2019

Forests in the Alps fulfil many purposes, apart from being an immutable component of the montane landscape. These include soil and slope stabilisation, water filtration, wildlife habitat and timber production, to name a few. They are also vital for community protection, especially from avalanches and rockfalls. A study trip to Davos, Switzerland in August 2019, to participate in the Swiss Forest Lab Summer School on Forest Resilience, was an opportunity to explore an old-growth stand that serves as part of a protection forest. Seeing how the large Norway spruce trees have buffered the fall of rocks allows us to appreciate just how significant the issue is for the people in this region. Without these woodlands, rocks could fall at anytime, and tumble down at high speed into the lower pastures, farms and villages. It is predicted to be a more significant problem in the future. The melting of permafrost due to climate change is likely to allow more loose rocks and boulders to dislodge from the high slopes and ridges. Photos: Digital, Nikon D3100.

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GALLERY 11

Coombs Wood, Cumbria, England | 2015

Coombs Wood is a fine, though relatively small woodland (103 ha) within the North England Forest District of Forestry England. The wood is approximately 1 km from the village of Armathwaite, Cumbria, and is an integral feature of a mixed pastoral and wooded valley landscape. Acquired as a freehold woodland in 1952, it was planted between 1954 and 1958 with conifer species, including Scots pine, lodgepole pine, larch, western hemlock, grand fir and Douglas fir. In 2006 most of the forest was designated as Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAW’s) or Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ASNW). This status dictates that there is a presumption in favour of native species into the future. Other features include the River Eden, which forms the western boundary of the forest, and excellent examples of “cross-bedding” geological formations. From a silvicultural perspective, Coombs Wood is in the process of transformation from an even-aged plantation to continuous cover forestry (CCF). The mature stands have been managed on a regular cycle of thinning interventions. As a result, there is significant natural regeneration and stand structural development. Shade tolerant conifer species predominate in the understorey, but there is also an increasing proportion of broadleaved species adding to the diversity and attractiveness of the woodland. Photos: Nikon F100; Agfa Precisa 100 slide film, scanned, edited.

Further information about Coombs Wood: Forestry England Website

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GALLERIES: Gallery 01: Baronscourt | Gallery 02: Clora | Gallery 03: Devil’s Glen | Gallery 04: Penrith Area | Gallery 05: Loch Vaa Area | Gallery 06: Vale of Clara | Gallery 07: Darnaway | Gallery 08: CarrigshoukGallery 09: Ardennes Gallery 10: Davos |  Gallery 11: Coombs Wood


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