The Native Woodland Survey of Scotland has taken Forestry Commission Scotland eight years to complete, from planning to final report. It is the most detailed study of Scotland's woods to date.
It has found that a third of Scotland’s native woods show significant damage from grazing animals, particularly deer, and that up to 14 per cent of Scotland’s ancient woodland has been lost since the last survey was completed.
Carol Evans, director of the Woodland Trust Scotland said: “The Native Woodland Survey of Scotland is a timely and really valuable piece of work. It demonstrates a welcome commitment to increasing our understanding of Scotland’s native woods.
“We have real concerns about the level of damage from grazing that has been identified. There is clear evidence that more needs to be done to ensure that Scotland’s valuable native woods are made resilient to this threat.
“We can increase the resilience of Scotland’s trees and woods by maintaining funding for creating new woodland, and also by increasing protection for the woodland that already exists, particularly ancient woodland which is one of Scotland’s most valuable habitats for wildlife.
“While the survey points to the need for further research into the loss of ancient woodland, we believe that one of the most likely factors is grazing by animals including deer.
“We ‘re happy that the Scottish Government is taking this issue seriously and is considering forming a working group to look at addressing the woodland loss highlighted by this important and comprehensive survey. We would welcome the chance to be a part of this group.”
Compared to the last survey of Scotland’s ancient woodland, the Ancient Woodland Inventory, the extent of this irreplaceable habitat has receded by up to 14 per cent.
Up to twelve per cent of the ancient woodland has been lost to what is now just open land, while much smaller amounts – generally less than one per cent – have been lost to agriculture or development.