Atholl Estates woodlands cover some 10,700 acres of land. In forestry circles they are well known as being some of the first commercial plantings carried out in this country, dating back to the early 18th century. The Dukes of Atholl established increasingly large areas of European larch and Norway spruce over what was a very open and treeless landscape around Dunkeld and Blair Atholl. The fourth Duke was so famed for his efforts that he was known as ‘the Planting Duke’. The timber was planted to supply the ship-building trade with a replacement for the oak which had been over-exploited throughout the British Isles, although by the time much of it was ready for felling, iron and steel had replaced wood in the ship trade.
In 1885, the Japanese larch was introduced to Dunkeld and subsequent hybrids between it and the European larch were noted by the foresters of the time. In 1904, the first hybrid larch seedlings were planted near Dunkeld and this ‘Dunkeld larch’, with the best combination of the parents’ qualities, became widely planted on the Atholl lands and elsewhere through Britain.
From a production perspective, our mixed woods produce high-quality timber for the housing market, as well as material for fencing and pallets. The early thinning from the plantations go to make chipboard or biomass fuel.
Within the last thirty years, a new wave of planting has taken place as we have re-established native woodland on some of the high hill sites originally planted by the ‘Planting’ Duke. These are mainly pinewoods and will form an important contribution to the wildlife habitat of this part of Perthshire.