Native woodland survey nearing half-way mark

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Several key milestones have been reached with the publication of the latest summary reports outlining the findings of the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland.

Publication of the latest five reports – for the local authority areas of Renfrewshire, Midlothian, East and West Dunbartonshire and the Western Isles – corresponds with the field work for the national survey, being carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland, reaching the half-way mark.

But another milestone is that the Western Isles report is also the Commission’s first major publication that is fully bilingual in Gaelic and English.

Derek Nelson, who is managing the project for the Commission, said:

“This is great news all round.

“The overall map of Scotland’s native woodland resource is now more than one third complete and we are beginning to see appear the most rounded map of Scotland’s native woodland resource that there has ever been.

“We’ve made the Western Isles report bi-lingual and we hope that this will encourage more people to take an interest in their local resource – because it’s important in two respects.

“Firstly, the Western Isles has never had it’s native woodland resource so fully mapped – and this will be important for successfully managing and expanding this resource, which at 336ha accounts for only 0.1 per cent of the total land area of the Western Isles.

“But more importantly, this area of native woodland is – for the most part - fairly young and planted woodland. In other words what we are seeing is the result of positive action to increase woodland cover on the isles.

“This is really encouraging and just goes to show that in as few as ten years, you can begin to see a landscape change.”

This finding highlights the value of such a survey in meeting the challenges facing forestry in Scotland, as successful management and expansion of native woodland can only be effectively carried out on the basis of having an accurate knowledge of the extent, condition and location of existing woodland resource.

As well as being published in summary reports, all of the survey data is online. It will enable woodland owners and managers, partner agencies and local authorities, to inform their woodland management, planning and decision making processes.

In total, the surveyors will visit over 800,000 hectares of woodland across Scotland, surveying all woodlands over 0.5ha in size. 

Carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland, the survey has also benefited from some support funding from SNH.

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)).

The Gaelic version can be found at

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.

2) Airson agallamhan anns a’ Ghàidhlig, cuiribh fios gu Oifigear Leasachaidh Gàidhlig a’ Choimisean, Louise Nicilleathain air 01463 725 038

1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Executive's forestry department. It manages 660,000 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) 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.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) Anyone looking to carry out interviews on this topic in Gaelic should contact the Commission’s Gaelic Development Officer, Louise MacLean on 01463 725 038