Species Choice – Broadening Trials

Luke Cross, Assistant Forest Manager in North Wales talks Sitka and Species.

Species choice is continually broadening with trials taking place to increase species choice and improve the species we already utilise. 

When reviewing a site the environment can give you many details on species suitability. So we start by looking at a few areas that all play a part:

1. Topography – The physical features of an area of land such as natural formations, mountains, rivers, lakes and valleys. Also manmade features such as road and dams.

2. Rainfall – In Wales it varies for different areas.

3. Soil Types

These choices are further influenced by:

1. Current pests and disease

2. Client objectives

Therefore the final choices can seem constrained but the final choices are planted with the confidence of establishing sustainable and resilient forestry.

In Wales, personally, I believe Sitka Spruce is the ‘go to’ species. It is a hardy, good timber, quicker rotations, that thrives in our upland climate. It is closely followed by Douglas Fir but that is limited as it does not like exposure so it is not suitable for the upland exposed sites.

Species choice can vary across the country. Right at the top of Scotland it’s pretty much Lodgepole pine which is very hardy. Borders and Central Scotland is predominantly Sitka, similar to Wales and lowland forestry is Scots Pine, Douglas Fir and the remnants of Larch and Corsican and finally the broadleaf species, Oak, Birch, Ash, Beech, Cherry and others follow.


“I believe the industry is keen to broaden species choice and variations within the same species. With various ongoing trials we are doing our part to help work towards a more species diverse and resilient future in forestry.”