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Forestry Statistics 2013 - Environment

Ancient and semi-natural woodland

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Ancient woodland is defined as woodland that has been in continuous existence since 1600 (1750 in Scotland). Semi-natural woodland refers to woodland with natural characteristics (predominantly native species of trees, ground plants and animals) where wood production is not a primary objective.

Ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW) tends to be richer in plants and animals than other woodland areas. The area of ASNW has declined over the centuries and woodlands have become increasingly fragmented. The figures shown in Table 5.1 are mostly based on maps from the 1990s.

There are estimated to be around 0.6 million hectares of ancient woodland in the UK and around 0.6 million hectares of semi-natural woodland.

Table 5.1 Ancient and semi-natural woodland

Woodland type

England

 Wales

Scotland

Northern
Ireland

 UK

thousand hectares

ASNW2

206

34

89

0

329

PAWS2

135

28

59

1

223

OSNW2

210

47

44

15

316

Total ancient1

341

62

148

1

552

Total semi-natural1

416

81

133

15

645

Source: Protected Forest Areas in the UK (S Pryor & G Peterken, 2001), Wales from Woodlands for Wales progress report  2001-05 (2006) and Northern Ireland ancient woodland data from Back on the Map (Woodland Trust, 2007)

Notes:

1. Ancient woodland is woodland that has been in continuous existence since 1600 (1750 in Scotland);
Semi-natural woodland is woodland with natural characteristics (predominantly native species of trees, ground plants and animals).

2. ASNW (ancient semi-natural woodland) is both ancient and semi-natural;
PAWS (plantation on an ancient woodland site) is ancient but not semi-natural;
OSNW (other semi-natural woodland) is semi-natural but not ancient.

These figures are outside the scope of National Statistics

Links to Forestry Statistics 2013