Techniques and technology evolve,
while the forests get busier

The timber industry in the 1960s was booming, and the Forestry Commission in Scotland continued to expand. The machinery used to fell, extract and plant was changing at a rapid rate, with horses and manual labour increasingly a rare sight. Instead, timber forests began to fill with the noise of machinery. By 1969, the Forestry Commission was carrying out 40% of all tree-planting in the UK, with the amount of timber produced almost doubling.

Thousands of new jobs were created, but the forests were changing in other ways, too. With increased amounts of leisure time available, the forests began to be seen once again as a place for rest, relaxation and recreation.

The 1968 Countryside Act expanded public access to Scottish forests - a right which was fought over often in years to come, and reaffirmed with the passing of the 2003 Land Reform Act, establishing the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Click each image above to find out more about the equipment and techniques being used. If you have some special knowledge or insight into the vehicles, technology and methods of the 1960s, why not share it with us via Forestry Memories?


a mechanical revolution

Technical progress allowed planting on previously un-plantable land. The axe and cross-cut saw disappeared, replaced by the lightweight chainsaw. Stables became workshops as the use of horses declined. Timber production rose from 20.1 million hoppus feet in 1960 to 36.5 million hoppus feet (equivalent to 1.8 million tonnes) per year by the end of the decade, and increasingly forestry was regarded as a business. The images above show the new lorries, winches and techniques that were becoming commonplace as the 1960s progressed.

At the same time, horses were still commonly used to haul timber, right up until the end of the 1960s.

In some of the photos in the gallery above, you can see how the horses were used to get to otherwise inaccessible sites, to retrieve felled timber.

This footage (right) of horse-drawn forestry operations in Dalavich Forest is courtesy of Heritage North, and dates to 1966.

1967_Glentress rec leaflet.jpg


The so-called ‘right to roam’ is a long-established tradition in Scotland, giving walkers access to private and farm land as walking routes.

It was finally signed into law in 2003, but back in the 1960s, a Forestry Commissioner (and later, a Dame) called Sylvia Crowe was already changing the way we thought about forests, establishing camp sites and recreational facilities throughout the UK. This was the beginning of the Commission’s involvement with forests beyond their use in industry.

On the left is an example of one of the earliest ‘Forest Walk’ leaflets produced in Scotland, most likely designed by the local team, and printed at a Post Office.

The text includes descriptions of species, geography and history, with descriptions of sites of interest around the informal, un-waymarked trails.

Click here to view the leaflet in full.



Scotland’s biggest agricultural show moved to Ingliston at the start of the 1960s, bringing it closer to the Scottish capital in the hopes of increasing links and trade between rural and urban farming, and between England and Scotland, and beyond.

Forestry Commission Scotland still exhibits every year at the Royal Highland Show, sharing new techniques, policies and initiatives with stakeholders and the general public.


1965: Scottish wildlife trust established

Now employing over 100 people, the Scottish Wildlife Trust was established in 1965 with just a handful of employees, and tasked with looking after the welfare and interests of Scotland’s wild species. The Trust now partner with Forestry Commission Scotland on a number of initiatives, and work closely with the timber industry to safeguard our country’s rare and endangered species.