RSFS at commemoration of HM Queen Elizabeth II

On Monday 12th September, the Society was honoured to be asked to send representatives to the events in Edinburgh marking the passing of Our Patron, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

RSFS President, Simon MacGillivray attended the service in St Giles. Reflecting on the service, Simon said:

“It was a rush in the morning when we were alerted that emails had come in over the weekend for the events, but we all got a move on and got everything sorted out.

The congregation were asked to meet at the Edinburgh City Council Chambers just after noon and there I joined a real mixture of people from various organisations, ex-politicians and civic officials. At 1.00pm we began to be taken over to St Giles in small groups and seated within the Cathedral which was bathed in the most beautiful sunlight, the stained glass windows seemed almost on fire.

The Royal Company of Archers were very present, both inside and out, including some of our members not only on guard duty, but helping place members of the congregation. Current politicians began to arrive, the First Minister closely followed by the Prime Minister. By 3.00pm the Cathedral was in full and in total silence, there simply was not a sound of any sort.

As the coffin and Royal Party arrived and entered, the only sound was the crunch of military boots on the stone floor.

The service was a mixture of old and new psalms and readings in a highly charged emotional atmosphere.

Once the Royal Party had left, all the congregation passed the coffin on an individual basis and we each paid our respects.

Back out into the sunlight and not so crowded streets, I took the bus to Corstorphine and then back home to walk my dog in the still quiet woods. There to sit and reflect on the day, a day in history that I’ll never see repeated, a day of thanksgiving for the life and work of a Monarch who has been a constant in all of my life, a day of emotion and as I sat beneath my beloved Douglas firs, smelling their scent in the quickly falling gloom, I must confess a tear came to my eye.

God Save The King”


Wilma Harper, Vice President, was invited to witness the Motion of Condolence in the Scottish Parliament.

“We were told to be there by 2pm which seemed very early for an event scheduled for 5:40pm but with the crowds on the Royal Mile it was necessary. When the time came for the procession from Holyrood Palace to St Giles, we stood on the corner opposite the Queen's Gallery to pay our respects as the cortege passed. We then returned to the Parliament building to watch the service on television screens. We sat in silence, each in our own thoughts and, at the end of the service, all stood as God Save the King was played.

In due course, we were escorted into the debating chamber galleries. The Royal Party were welcomed by a specially written fanfare. It was notable how many of the speeches from the leaders of the parties in the Scottish Parliament referred to the mace, gifted by Her Majesty. Engraved on the head of the mace are the words 'Wisdom, Justice, Compassion and Integrity'. These four words describe the values personified by The Queen throughout her entire life.

HM King Charles responded acknowledging the affection his mother had for Scotland, its people and its land. He quoted Robert Burns’ “Epitaph on my own Friend” praising his mother’s life of “incomparable service”.

“If I might paraphrase the words of the great Robert Burns, my dear mother was the friend of man, the friend of truth, the friend of age and guide of youth,” he said. “Few hearts like her with virtue warmed, few heads with knowledge so informed.”

We then returned to the Main Hall where their Majesties King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, between them spoke to all of us in turn. Queen Camilla shook my hand, and reading my name badge, said “Ah yes, the foresters, we mustn’t forget them.”

It was a privilege to represent the Society, to mark the passing of Our Patron and be present at this moment in history.”



Our Royal Patron

HRH Queen Elizabeth with past President of the Society Sir Pat Hunter BlairIt was with the deepest regret that we learned of the death of our Patron Her Majesty the Queen.   On behalf of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society and its members we extend our sincere condolences to the Royal Family. 

Queen Elizabeth became our patron on our 100th anniversary in 1954 and has epitomised our motto to “Aye be sticking in a tree” throughout her life of service.

Her Majesty’s love of trees was well known and most recently exemplified by The Queen’s Green Canopy which marked her Platinum Jubilee.  Cashel Estate, a part of the RSFS, is one of a nationwide network of 70 Ancient Woodlands and 70 Ancient Trees to be dedicated to Her Majesty in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee.

The Queen is pictured here in 2017 with Society Past President Sir Pat Hunter Blair.

Journal with image of storm damage

A cover for tempestuous times

The Spring 2022 edition of our journal Scottish Forestry reflects the issues of the moment and the long history of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society and the timeframe of the forests.

The months since our Winter 2021 edition have been tempestuous. In the literal sense, Storm Arwen and her siblings cut swathes through Scotland’s forests. Heartrending for those seeing well-loved woods uprooted, it was also (and remains) a huge logistical challenge: clearing windblow, making woods safe again, getting the right storm-toppled species to market at the right time, and for the Scottish government a test of its felling licence system. We cover this in the Letters pages and Jenny Johnson’s reflections on Arwen, its aftermath and future adaptation. We are grateful for Ben Crisford’s astonishing aerial images, including our cover– a remarkable photo essay.

Tempests, too, in geopolitics: the Ukraine-Russia crisis has destabilised relations with timber trade giants as war, sanctions and commercial boycotts create disruption and uncertainty, and risks around Russian oil and gas add more attention to wood as energy source (though with disagreements over its relative sustainability).

Indeed, we ask wood to do so much – a clear theme from our COP26 special. Since the world’s eyes were on Glasgow our contributors from across industry, government, conservation, science and community to reflect on how our forests should respond to the climate and biodiversity crises.

On other pages, foresters seeking greater yields will find much of interest in Bill Mason and co-authors’ study on the ‘nursing’ effect of mixing species. Douglas MacMillan makes a case for robust legislative intervention on deer numbers. And Tom Mitchell reports on how the Society is carefully preserving – and opening up – this journal’s 166-year history using modern technology.

Scottish Forestry also gives members of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society updates on the Society’s activities and other forestry news through our fortnightly newsletter email. It is sent free to members and available to them online. If you are a member, do not receive the newsletter but would like to, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


All members receive the journal by mail and can access the archive digitally. Subscription for a library or other public reading room within the UK is £90. Overseas subscription rate is £150. Please contact us to obtain information about a subscription or even better, membership. Individual copies can also be purchased from the shop.

Writing for Scottish Forestry

We welcome contributions from all who are passionate and knowledgeable about Scotland’s forests. More details are available here from the editor, Gavin McGregor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Duke of Edinburgh passes

The Royal Scottish Forestry Society is deeply saddened to hear of the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and we send our condolences to the Queen and his family.  He was made an honorary member of RSFS in 1954 our centenary and he addressed the conference to mark 150 years of the Society.