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Bennachie Forest Soil Map (part)
Forestry Memories
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No: 3462   Contributor: Bill Rayner   Year: 1983
Bennachie Forest Soil Map (part)

This is a Forestry Commission (FC) soil map of the upper slopes of Bennachie that was commissioned in the early 1980's, so as to assess the potential areas of plantable ground above the upper FC forest plantings of the time. The survey was carried out by Jim Davidson in 1982, using the FC 'standardised' soil classification adopted in 1982. Jim was a soil survey Forester for 18 years in Surveys Branch, until the branch demise, when he joined Forest Research (FR) for the remainder of his career as a Research Forester at Newton, Elgin.

Due to the dominance of unsuitable soil/climatic conditions and the impact upon the Bennachie landscape that would have been made; this particular planting scheme was not put into effect.

Graham Pyatt (Dr D. G. Pyatt), along with Richard Toleman and David Paterson, District Officers (DOs) in Surveys Branch, developed and refined the FC soil classification from the beginning of the 1960's, along with the Foresters who took on the role of site surveyors, usually working in pairs, under their supervision throughout the UK. The combination of geological, edaphic ("Of or relating to the soil") and botanical indicators being assessed and mapped, thereby giving an indication of the suitability of the site to grow trees and during the period of the 1960's through to the early 1990's, more specifically Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) (SS).

Usually, a soil report, giving advice on the geological, edaphic and botanical site indicators, along with potential climatic conditions (derived from the climatic research on Scotland of Birse and Dry, 1970 and Birse 1971, from Aberdeen University) was issued with the map. Soil pits showing ‘typical’ soil profiles, pertinent to the silviculture of the area were also dug and local forest staff were given a demonstration of these pits, the map and report advice at a formal survey handover on the site. As the areas of acquisition and the pace of new planting out-stripped the rate at which the acquired ground could be surveyed; along with the belief that all sites could be “made to grow SS”, these demonstrations became less formal and then lapsed. Jim’s report is appended and can be read by selecting the ‘Open document’ symbol (middle of the 3 symbols) at the lower right-hand corner of the map image.

All of the FC soil maps from the period 1963 – 2010 have been digitised, along with their reports, if present. All of these paper maps and reports have been deposited in the ‘National Archives of Scotland’, Edinburgh, along with their digital images (waiting cataloguing at the time of writing).
Picture added on 11 November 2016 at 14:03
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