James HC Fenton





Ecology of Scotland

Essays on nature




Piano music



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2. Preamble & Introduction


Woodland issues

7. Vegetation history: woodland as an episode

8. Vegetation history: natural as opposed to anthropogenic woodland loss

9. Tree regeneration: not inevitable in natural systems

10. Woodland & grazing

11. Woodland history

12. Norway: the wrong model for Scotland

13. The concept of ancient woodland: not applicable to much of upland Scotland

14. The naturally low abundance of montane scrub

15. Concept of treeline: not applicable in the oceanic climate

Landscape-scale pattern

16. Natural vegetation zonation

17. Ecological dynamism & favourable condition

18. Overgrazing: a valid concept?

Peatland issues

19. Peat erosion as a natural phenomenon

20. The long-term peat cycle

21. Peat cycle diagram

Invasive species

22. The spread of gorse

23. The spread of bracken

24. Invasive species and loss of biodiversity

25. Invasive species – colonisation of conifers

26. Hill tracks as corridors for invasive species

Rarity of species & habitats

27. Rarity as an ecological characteristic

28. Rarity at different scales

29. Conclusions from the Previous Pages

44. Climate change notes

OLD PARADIGM     The current landscape consists of degraded ecosystems, largely through past and present human action. Hence ‘habitat restoration’ is a key activity.

NEW PARADIGM     The landscape of northern and western Scotland contains one of the most natural vegetation patterns in Europe with, for example, the current rarity of woodland in many localities being a key biodiversity feature. Hence the concept of ‘habitat restoration’ loses its meaning.


with minor revisions




or download here

  .pdf file 3.8mb

  A4 landscape

  48 pages

  108 colour photographs

  First published April 2011

  Author: James Fenton

Towards a New Paradigm for the Ecology of Northern & Western Scotland

A Synthesis of Issues

New paradigm


30. Biodiversity value of woodland versus moorland

31. Favourable condition at the landscape scale

32. Ecological networks:  Woodland networks fragment moorland networks

33. Compartmentalisation of the uplands

34. Compartmentalisation – riverside ‘restoration’

35. The action planning approach at the landscape scale

36. Moorland management

37. Need for a moorland strategy

38. Soil damage through tree planting; Trees & albedo

39. Irreversible effect of forestry

40. Trees & erosion of hill slopes

41. Peatland conservation and carbon storage

42. Bulldozed tracks & wild land

43. Re-Wilding

44. Climate change notes

45. Approaches to nature conservation & biodiversity targets

46. Endpiece

47. APPENDIX. Assessing herbivore carrying capacity using trophic levels

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See also:

A Postulated Natural Origin for the Open Landscape of Upland Scotland

See James Fenton’s 2008 paper on Scotland’s upland ecology in Plant Ecology & Diversity

Too Much Woodland?

Presentation format, January 2016