Better Woods for Nature

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20 MARCH 2012NEWS RELEASE No: 15367

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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

Notes to editors
1) Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government’s Environment & Forestry Directorate, and manages the 656,000 hectare national forest estate in ways that continue to deliver increasing benefits to Scotland’s people, communities, biodiversity and economy.

2) The Woods for Nature programme was launched in 2008. It has involved projects in partnership with many other organisations, including: Scottish Natural Heritage , Forest Research,  Plantlife Scotland, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, RSPB, Strathclyde Police, Mull and Iona Community Trust, Central Scotland Forest Trust and the Central Scotland Green Network, the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy’s  Woodland Ecosystem Group and local authorities and local biodiversity partnerships across the country.

3) Further highlights in the report include:

More woods than ever are being managed to improve their value for nature:

• All types of new woodland are designed to include some open areas and native species, and revised good practice guidelines were published in 2011;

• FCS spent £ 2.64 million on restoring native woodland sites on the NFE in 2010/11 alone, for example by removing invasive rhododendron;

• Over 80, 000 ha on the NFE is now managed with low impact silvicultural methods using thinning and small scale felling and regeneration;

• Grant support in 2010/11 helped nearly 1000ha of woodland to increase the number of tree species, which should help their wildlife and scenic value.

Enhanced efforts to improve woodland for rare and threatened species and habitats:

• In 2010/11 over 19,000 ha of open ground habitats on the national forest estate were surveyed and 1000ha were managed to improve or restore open habitats in 2010/11.

• Measures to help other rare and protected species are increasingly built into woodland planning and management, and FCS has published guidance on protecting bats, otters, wildcats, great-crested newts and white-tailed eagles since 2008.

Increasing awareness and enjoyment of nature:

• FCS has increased its facilities for wildlife watching and volunteering;

• We work with educationalists through the Woods for Learning programme, and ran several workshops to develop outdoor environmental teaching techniques.

1) Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a’ riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.