Constraints and opportunities for integrated multifunctional forest management in the Cairngorms region of Scotland

  • Robert McMorran

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


Scottish forestry policy promotes integrated multifunctional forestry and continued forest expansion, and the private forestry sector is key to achieving these goals. However, a variety of factors can constrain multifunctional forestry, particularly in upland areas. Management objectives for private forests are also not always widely known and the potential impacts of government policy, and particularly conservation designations, on the delivery of multifunctional forestry have not been explored. Furthermore, the effects of landownership on forest management are unclear. The key aim of this research was to evaluate how forests and woodlands in the Cairngorms are being managed, and to determine the main constraints and opportunities to the further application of a multifunctional approach to forest management in the region at various scales.
The research incorporated GIS analysis, a postal questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews. A typology was developed which identified three key management themes: sustainable multifunctional management; restricted functionality forestry; and dual function management. Forest owner preferences, economic concerns, government policy and the wider land use context all influence forest management. No consistent relationship was evident between specific types of landownership and forest management functionality. A link was apparent between species and structural diversity and forest multifunctionality. Overall, ‘social’ objectives were relatively weak, particularly for private forests, while ‘environmental’ objectives were consistently strong and ‘productive/economic’ objectives varied in importance.
The themes of constraint and opportunity were: spatial fragmentation and integration; forestry markets; bureaucracy and policy integration; public pressure and public support; and unpredictability and forest resource resilience. Many constraints result from temporal, spatial and organizational scale mis-matches between social and natural systems. The matching up of scales at the management, organizational and market levels and the treatment of forests as complex social-ecological systems is recommended. Further recommendations include: further land management integration; increased policy regionalization; timber market localization; and enhanced long-term planning.
Date of Award8 Sept 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The Open University
SponsorsUHI Studentship
SupervisorMartin Francis Price (Supervisor) & Charles Warren (Supervisor)

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