First national map of Scotland's native woodlands begins to emerge

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10 MAY 2010NEWS RELEASE No: 13528

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A pioneering six-year survey to create the first full record of Scotland's remaining native woodlands has reached its first major mile stone.

Carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland, with support from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland (NWSS) aims to detail the extent, nature and condition of the native woodlands in all of Scotland’s local authority areas.

The first eight summary reports published today (Monday 10 May) cover the local authority areas for Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, North, South and East Ayrshire and East Renfrew.

In addition to the summary reports, the survey data is available online to enable woodland owners and managers, partner agencies and local authorities, to inform their woodland management, planning and decision making processes.

Welcoming the results, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, said:

“Scotland’s woodlands are becoming increasingly important to us in a number of ways – from sustaining and enhancing biodiversity to helping in the fight against climate change, from serving as a lynchpin for many rural enterprises, to offering a wide range of recreational opportunities to communities across the country.

“But it is quite shocking to think that we only have a tiny remnant of our original   native woodland left due to historical exploitation.

“During the last 20 years or so a lot has been done to protect these precious fragments and begin to reverse that decline, but if we are to see our efforts have the maximum effect then we need to know exactly what resource we have to work with.

“This is a hugely important survey and I am confident will make a significant contribution towards protecting, enhancing and expanding this magnificent resource.”

In total, the surveyors will visit around 730,000 hectares of woodland across Scotland, surveying all woodlands over 0.5ha in size – roughly a total of 425,000 hectares.

For more information on the survey, the results and how to use them, visit and look for the ‘reports’ link (in the Summary reports and accessing information section).

1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Executive's forestry department. It manages 668,000 hectares of national forest land for multiple benefits, including nature conservation, public recreation, timber production, and rural and community development; supports other woodland owners with grants, felling licences, advice and regulation; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Ministers on forestry policy.

2) SNH provided some support funding. Scottish Natural Heritage is the Government’s advisor on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. SNH's role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland’s nature now and in the future. For further information on SNH, please visit the website at 

3) Native woods and forests are those comprising species of trees and plants that established themselves in Scotland without human help (eg - pedunculate and sessile oak, wych elm, downy and silver birch, ash, alder, aspen, rowan, juniper, yew and Scots pine.

4) The NWSS will help Forestry Commission Scotland meet its commitments to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and report and deliver progress against relevant Habitat Action Plans.