The History of Woodland in The Highlands: An Ecological Perspective Part 1: What does the evidence suggest? Part 2: Too Much Woodland?
Lecture to the Botanical Society of Scotland (Edinburgh September 2017, Inverness December 2017)
The eminent geologist James Geikie concluded in 1866 that ”It can be shown that the destruction of our ancient forests has not been primarily due to man…”.
Later in 1955 Frank Fraser Darling called the Highlands a “devastated countryside” owing to human-caused deforestation.
So who is right? The answer to the question is of fundamental importance to those concerned with the conservation of the Highland landscape.
This presentation takes a strategic overview and concludes that it is more likely that James Geikie is correct: evidence seems to suggest that woodland is unlikely to be the climax vegetation at this stage of the postglacial period, and that the current vogue for woodland ‘restoration’ risks damaging the remaining naturalness of the Highlands.