Balancing conservation with access

The plantation forestry that established most of our productive forests today was aimed primarily at maximising timber production. Forestry Commission Scotland now works to a much wider set of objectives.

Timber production is still very important here in Culbin but foresters balance this with environmental and nature conservation objectives and also the enjoyment of this wonderful place by visitors.
Foresters now see the real benefits of following and mimicking natural processes in their management of Culbin. The deep-rooted pines on sandy soils and relatively low wind speeds here mean that there is a wider range of options than in the generally wetter and windier forests across Scotland.

The Culbin Forest Plan

The Culbin Forest Plan now focuses on thinning and small-scale group fellings to allow enough light to reach the forest floor for natural regeneration of the forest, without replanting. The idea is to avoid the need for clearfelling here and to provide a continuous tree cover. The low level of nutrients in the soil means that there is little competition from other plants and the tree seedlings grow on well with very little help.

The Forest Plan is the template for Culbin’s management. Managing forests is a long-term occupation and the Forest Plan sketches out how Culbin will develop far into the future.  The plan is an extensive document but to give a you a flavour of it, you can download some of the maps:

  •     Design concepts (PDF 368k).  The main design concepts for Culbin forest.
  •     Silvicultural regimes (PDF 1.6 Mb).  This plan shows how different continuous cover systems will be used to thin and regenerate the forest.  Give us a call if you'd like to know more.
  •     Areas of conservation interest (PDF 917k).  Shows the main conservation designations that take priority over all our management here.

Reviewing the plan - give us your comments

Foresters periodically review the plan in consultation with local communities and other interest groups. If you would like to comment, you don’t have to wait for the review: call the Planning Forester on 01466 794161 and he will be pleased to hear from you.

How old are the trees here when foresters start thinning them out?

At about 30 years. At this stage, the canopy will have closed over and as pine needs a lot of light, foresters need to give the trees more room to encourage further growth.

How old would a “mature” tree be in Culbin – large enough for a sawmill to make into timber?

The pine across most of Culbin grows fairly slowly due to the low level of nutrients in the sand. Seventy years to produce sawmill timber would be a fairly good site in Culbin.

How much timber does Culbin produce each year?

About 12,000 cubic metres of timber – that’s about 400 lorryloads!  Each person in Scotland consumes about one cubic metre of wood and wood products every year - from toilet rolls to furniture.

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