The existing native forests of Scotland are fragmented and highly modified and none are ‘natural’. There is considerable interest in expanding the area of this oceanic boreal forest and restoring forest habitat networks to benefit biodiversity. However, unlike regions with substantial remaining natural forest, it is difficult to provide reference values for forest composition and structure using methods related to historical variability. An alternative approach is to combine models that predict woodland type from knowledge of site conditions, and disturbance regime from knowledge of the disturbance agents (particularly abiotic agents). The applicability of this approach was examined as part of a public participatory planning exercise in a highly managed landscape in Eastern Scotland. Models of site suitability (Ecological Site Classification) and wind disturbance (ForestGALES) were combined to determine potential woodland composition and structure, and derive options for native woodland expansion. The land use of the upper Strathdon catchment is currently dominated by agriculture and planted forests of non-native species, and only small fragments of semi-natural woodland remain (< 0.5% of the land area). Model results indicated that a very substantial proportion of the land area could support woodland (> 90%) but of a restricted range of native woodland types, with Scots pine communities predominant. Structural types likely to be present included wind-induced krummholz (treeline) forest, forest with frequent stand replacement by wind, and also a large area where gap phase (or some other disturbance) would predominate. The merits of the approach are discussed, together with the difficulties of validation, and the implications for the management of existing forests.