Research Note explores issues of converting conifers to native woodland

The Forestry Commission has issued a Research Note which explores the benefits and drawbacks of converting non-native planted woodlands to native woodlands.

The note also evaluates woodland owners' and managers' attitudes towards, and experiences of, conversion.

Increasing the area of native woodlands, including the conversion of non-native conifer woodland to native woodland, where appropriate, is an aim of the UK Forestry Standard Guidelines on Biodiversity.

The Research Note reports that attitudes and experiences vary according to owners' objectives. Managers whose primary objective is conservation are prepared to invest time and resources converting their woodlands. However, those whose primary objective is timber production are reluctant to pay for conversion because they can be concerned that it will reduce productivity, especially where competition, herbivory and biosecurity threats to native tree species are a potential issue.

The note also reports that it is unclear how much conversion is being implemented, what the motivations might be, or how it is achieved in practice. The level of effort and cost required for conversion varies with local site conditions and/or the proximity of native woodland from which colonisation processes can occur.

Written by Nadia Barsoum of Forest Research and Laura Henderson of the Forestry Commission, the Research Note is entitled 'Converting planted non-native conifer to native woodlands: a review of the benefits, drawbacks and experience in Britain'. It will be most useful to forest planners and managers considering woodland conversion projects.

It is available to download free from the publications area of the Forestry Commission website at

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