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Lost in the woods

Urgent call to bring Scotland’s overgrown and neglected woodlands back to life

December 19 2011

Twinflower - a Scottish woodland wildflower facing further decline   © Laurie Campbell

Twinflower - a Scottish woodland wildflower facing further decline © Laurie Campbell

1 in 6 of Scotland’s woodland flowers is under threat of extinction whilst there has been a dramatic decline in woodland wildlife.

These are the stark findings of a Plantlife report published today which warns that Scotland’s woodland plants and wildlife will continue their alarming decline without a radical shift in the way we care for our woods.

Scotland’s woodlands are exceptional; certain woodlands in Scotland are of global importance. Yet, if you go down to the woods today you will find many of them dark, overgrown and quiet. Many are suffering neglect, either by under management or by unsustainable numbers of deer are hollowing out the structural heart of our woodlands, and much new tree planting is a simple case of wrong tree, wrong place. Plantlife is calling on the Government to focus on the Quality not the Quantity of woodland in Scotland.

Victoria Chester, Plantlife’s Chief Executive, says: “Scotland has more woodland than 50 years ago, yet we are continuing to see our woodland flowers and wildlife declining. The Government’s ambition of creating thousands of hectares of new woodland in Scotland every year is missing the point. More woodland is good but what we really need is better woodland. The reality is that newly planted woods will take years to have any real conservation value – whilst some of our really special ancient woodlands are slowly but surely going down the pan.”

“More trees do not equal more wildlife” adds Deborah Long, Conservation Manager and author of the report, ‘it is what we do with our woods that counts. We need to put less emphasis on the quantity of woodland and focus instead on their quality and how we manage them, so we can rescue our woodlands from a dark and dull future.”

In brief:

1 in 6 woodland flowers threatened with extinction
Scotland of global importance for mosses and liverworts
•Only 1% of Scotland’s wooded area is protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest
• Woodland birds decreasing across Scotland

For more information about the report, please call Deborah Long, Plantlife Scotland’s Conservation Manager and the report’s main authors on 07971 691 270 or email

For more images, please call or email Justina Simpson, Plantlife’s Publicity Manager, on 07833 700 177 or email

You can download a PDF copy of Quality and quantity: revitalising Scotland's woodlands by clicking on the link below.