Six key species will be helped in a new programme to create better habits within Scotland’s woodlands. The Forestry Commission will focus on the capercaillie, black grouse, red squirrel, pearl-bordered fritillary, chequered skipper butterfly and juniper as important, but threatened, species. The projects, across all of Scotland, will seek to increase biodiversity by improving habitats. For example open areas within woodlands will be created to increase the amount of blaeberry growing, an important food for the capercaillie and also to provide areas where the bird is more likely to successfully breed.
Environment Minister Mike Russell launched the plan at the Carrick Forest in Dumfries and Galloway. He said Scotland’s forests had a key part to play in protecting endangered species. “We are very fortunate in Scotland to enjoy a wealth of biodiversity that is for the most part robust and healthy.
However, some elements are extremely fragile and making sure that they thrive will require some large-scale thinking and landscape scale vision – both of which are forestry sector strengths.”
The Woods for Nature programme looks at most of the major issues facing woodland development across Scotland. Among the biggest threats listed are “widespread browsing by deer or sheep” and “invasive non-native trees and shrubs”. The projects range from using Highland cattle to graze areas within woodlands to increase flowers and improve the habitat for butterflies, to rhododendron control, to trying to naturalise mono-species plantations by the introduction of other types of native trees.