20 March 2012

Better Woods for Nature

Forestry Commission Scotland's latest update on its Biodiversity Programme (Woods for Nature) shows that three years of work has resulted in good progress on 39 of 42 objectives.

The update report gives an in-depth picture of the Commission’s wide ranging action for biodiversity on the National Forest Estate (NFE) and which it supports in other woodlands throughout the country.

Environment & Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“This latest progress report from Forestry Commission Scotland on their biodiversity work demonstrates an impressive range of action for nature in Scottish forests and woodlands - both in managing the national forest estate and also supporting action in private woodlands with grants from the Scottish Rural Development Programme.

“I welcome the combination of broad ecosystem scale action - such as creating native woodland habitat networks – and focussed measures in particular places for key woodland species.

“I also welcome the fact that the Commission is very ably combining management for wildlife with managing woods for timber and recreational access and activities. This integrated approach will be increasingly important in ensuring that biodiversity and our woodland environment remain healthy and attractive.’’

Some of the key highlights in the latest report include:
  • In 2010/11, nearly 7500ha of native woodlands were brought into management and 37,000 hectares of private forest was brought into long term forest plans; 
  • Almost two-thirds (38,000ha) of our most damaged ancient woodland sites are now under management plans aiming to secure and enhance their biodiversity value; 
  • 97% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest on the national forest estate are in good or improving condition; 
  • Over 3,400 ha of new native woodlands were created in 2010/11, helping to build habitat networks; FCS spent £760k on the national forest estate in 2010/11 on action for 6 key species (capercaillie, black grouse, red squirrel, the pearl-bordered fritillary and chequered skipper butterflies and juniper), including nearly 10,000 hectares of habitat improvement work; 
  • FCS are carrying out a complete inventory of Scottish native and ancient woodlands, which will be the biggest habitat survey ever carried out in Scotland, and we are on track to complete it by 2013.
The Woods for Nature- next steps document sets out what FCS expect to do to continue the programme up to spring 2014.

Actions planned include updating our programmes for the key woodland species, completing the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland and using results to prioritise efforts for native woodlands, promoting more landscape-scale ecological restoration projects with partner agencies and bodies; and enhancing our knowledge and advice to help woodland ecosystems and species to adapt to climate change and to new pests and diseases.

For more information about Woods for Nature – next steps visit

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