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Woodland Creation (Native)

When considering the creation of native woodland it is important to consider both site and tree selection.  You want to ensure that you are choosing the right type of woodland to go in the right place for the right reason.

Native woodland has all of the benefits of a commercial scheme but usually with less long term management.  Some benefits include shelter, making use of less productive ground, sediment control, bank stabilisation and connecting existing woodlands to expand this nature resource.

Grant Funding

Scottish Rural Development Program under the Forestry Grant Scheme offers both capital and management payments for woodland creation.  More information about available payments and target areas can be found here.  Scottish Forestry has created a short downloadable guide to the Forestry Grant Scheme - Woodland Creation.

If you would like additional information regarding native woodland creation that is more specific to your needs please contact our helpline and ask for a member of the woodlands team.

Site Selection

Consider the following things when thinking about the location of your native woodland;

  • Are there any issue with peat? (>50cm)
  • Are there any designations? (SSSI, Archaeology etc.)
  • Presence of existing native woodlands
  • Access for ground preparation, fencing and planting

Tree Selection

The Scottish Forestry Map Viewer website will show you suitability of different grant options for woodland type i.e. Native Scots Pine, Native Broadleaves, Native Upland Birch.

A good starting point for species choice is the Ecological Site Classification website.  Using modelled data this will give you a list of tree species which should perform well at your chosen site.

Having a mix of species can help with both pest and disease resistance.

When considering native woodland creation it useful to take note of existing native tree species in your area as these are more likely to perform well.  For example native Scots Pine within the Cairngorm National Park whereas Birch, Willows and Alder are more suited to wetter environments.  If you have pockets of better ground within the area you are considering species such as Oak may be suitable.  See our Quick Guide table below or download a printable copy here.

Farm Woodland - Quick Guide to Broadleaved Tree Species

Common name(s);
Scientific name
Preferred ConditionsApprox. mature heightExposure toleranceGeneral yield class*Benefits
Alder, Common;
Alnus glutinosa
Prefers deep, mainly acid soils. Suitable for land which is poorly drained, or prone to water-logging or flooding. Cold-hard and frost-resistant.25mLow4-14Fixes nitrogen from the air and improves soil quality. Can improve growth of other tree species when grown in mixtures.
Good for riparian situations for sediment capture and bank stabilisation, and for reclamation sites.
Timber has value for wood turning.
Potential for coppicing.
Populus tremula
Prefers moist/marshy clay soils, and next to watercourses.
Cold hardy and frost resistant.
30mModerateN/AFast growing, good at colonising poorer sites such as old quarries or gravel sites.
Ideal for riparian planting, along riversides or gullies.
Fagus sylvatica
Prefers reasonably deep fertile, well drained soil but will also grow in more acid conditions.30mHigh4-10When trimmed or clipped to a hedge the trees usually hold their leaves through winter, providing increased shelter.
Straight-grained wood, that is easily worked and finishes well. Suitable for furniture, flooring and turnery.
Timber rotations typically 70-80 years. Beyond 100 years trees are likely to suffer rot and timber defects.
Not native.
Birch, Downy;
Betula pubescens
Tolerant of a range of soil conditions.25mModerate4-12Fast growing pioneer able to colonise bare areas.
Better suited to drier soils than downy birch. Strong winds will cause poor stem form – avoid exposure if main objective is timber value.
Strong timber, which can have a decorative appearance. Trees with good form have high value for joinery, furniture, plywood and particleboard.
Cherry, Wild;
Gean Prunus avium
Prefers deep slightly acidic, well drained, loamy soils on lowland sites. Cold hardy and frost tolerant.25mLow4-8Can have significant value when managed as a timber crop.
Attractive flowers in April/May support pollinators. Can produce cherries in May/June, providing food for wildlife.
Demand for quality cherry timber far outstrips supply. Sought-after for veneer and decorative joinery.
Crataegus monogyna
Grows well on most soil types, except sands and permanently waterlogged ground.8mHighN/AWorks well as a dense, thorny hedgerow species but can also take the form of small trees.
Attractive white flowers in late spring support pollinators. Berries are an important food source for birds, and the plant itself provides shelter and nesting sites.
Corylus avellana
Prefers fertile, deep, moist loamy soils although also capable of growing on heavy clay sites.6mHighN/AUsually a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree with potential for coppicing.
Can grow as understorey, increasing shelter provided by mature/ high canopy woods.
Good habitat for birds, including game birds.
Can produce hazelnuts in August/September, and is valuable for wildlife in woodlands and hedges.
Oak Pedunculate; Quercus roburCapable of growing on deep heavier, clay, acid soils.35mModerate4-8High ecological importance.
Can have high value if managed as a timber crop.
Potential for coppicing.
Strong, attractive, durable timber. Good quality oak can fetch a high price for furniture, joinery, panelling.
Grey squirrels must be controlled to avoid significant damage to timber quality.
Oak, Sessile;
Quercus petraea
Capable of growing on a range of soils but prefers drier, acidic, conditions with deep soil.35mModerate4-8High ecological importance.
Can have high value if managed as a timber crop.
Potential for coppicing.
Strong, attractive, durable timber. Good quality oak can fetch a high price for furniture, joinery, panelling.
Grey squirrels must be controlled to avoid significant damage to timber quality.
Rowan / mountain ash; Sorbus aucupariaPrefers moist, humus rich sites but is capable of growing in a range of habitats and higher elevations, right up to the tree-line.18mHighN/ANot sensitive to frost, very hardy.
High conservation value.
Attractive white blossom in May and red berries from September support pollinators and wildlife.
Fruit can be used to make preserves or jelly.
Acer pseudoplatanus
Prefers deep, moderately fertile, alkaline, moist or damp conditions.35mHigh4-12Can have high value if managed as a timber crop.
Potential for coppicing.
Hard, strong, stable timber. Suitable for furniture, joinery and flooring.
Grey squirrels must be controlled to avoid significant damage to timber quality.
Not native.
Willow, Goat;
Salix caprea
Suitable for damp soils, mashes and wetter ground.10mHighN/AFast growing.
Valuable for stabilising banks when planted in riparian areas.
Foliage has high nutritional value, with potential as supplementary livestock diet, and for cutting tree hay once established.
*General yield class is a measure of productivity. It is the average annual gain in timber volume per hectare per year over the rotation. For example, a yield class of 16 indicates an average annual timber volume gain of 16m3/ha/yr. Yield class varies between species (some grow faster than others) and site conditions. A tree species planted on an unsuitable site will have a lower yield class than the same species growing in more suitable conditions. Yield class ranges are based on trees grown in pure, single-species stands and are indicative only.


Our Quick Guide to Short Rotation Forestry Species might also be of interest.

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