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Indicators for biodiversity

View the biodiversity chapter of 'UK Indicators of Sustainable Forestry', as published in October 2002.

Any recent developments, and links to additional information, are shown below.

B1. Ancient woodland

  • Estimates of ancient woodland areas, based on ancient woodland inventories mostly compiled in the late 1980s, were published in Pryor & Peterken (2001).  

The indicator B1 published in 2002 used results from Pryor & Smith (2002). This was an updated estimate of ancient woodland area derived by overlaying the NIWT 1995-1999 digital map onto ancient woodland inventories. This gave lower figures than those published in Pryor & Peterken (2001). At the time, Pryor & Smith (2002) was thought to give the best estimates of ancient woodland area.

However, further investigation of the discrepancies between NIWT and the ancient woodland inventories suggests that some discrepancies are due to differences in spatial registration of woods, and that some areas of ancient woodland are incorrectly omitted from the totals in Pryor & Smith (2002). In consequence, the estimates from Pryor & Peterken (2001) are now recommended for use, until better information becomes available.

The ancient woodland data set for England is currently being revised by English Nature.  Data for Wales were revised for the woodlands for Wales progress report in 2006.  For Northern Ireland, a report and website Back on the map were launched in 2006/07.

B2. Native woodland area

  • Results from the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland have been published February 2014.

  • Native woodland is being identified in the new National Forest Inventory, for which fieldwork started in 2009.

B3. Native woodland condition

  • Statistics for condition of woodland SSSI's are not yet available for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

B4. Abundance of fauna


B5. Richness of flora

  • Further information is available on the Countryside Survey website.  Some information is also provided in Forestry Statistics (Table 5.4).   

  • The report Biodiversity in Britain's Planted Forests, published in December 2003, presents the results from the Forestry Commission's Biodiversity Assessment Project. This project was established in 1995 with 52 permanent plots in conifer forests to assess many different aspects of biodiversity, including structure, soil, fungi, higher and lower plants and invertebrates.

  • A study into long-term ecological change in British woodland (1971-2001) reported in 2005 (English Nature Research Report 653).

    B6. Diversity of woodland within a stand

  • The information available for deadwood has now been extended to include fallen trees - see revised indicator. Note that these sample results should give an unbiased estimate of the average amount of deadwood, but under-estimate the proportion of forest containing some deadwood.
  • Pilot work in 2004-05 for the next National Inventory found deadwood in a high proportion of plots.

B7. Natural regeneration of woodland

  • Woodland Grant Scheme natural regeneration statistics for England, Scotland and Wales, used in compiling the published indicator, are available here.
Last updated: 29th August 2017