Date lodged: 24 May 2018
To ask the Scottish Government how much UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) open ground priority habitat, as identified by the Forest Enterprise Scotland Habitat Action Plan survey, has been planted (a) in total and (b) with (i) native tree species and (ii) non-native conifers on the National Forest Estate by Forest Enterprise Scotland in each year since 2010, and whether all planted areas in each year had a UKBAP priority habitat survey to provide information on priority habitat lost to planting and to inform which areas were planted.
Answered by: Fergus Ewing 14 June 2018
More than 104,000 ha of priority open habitats have been identified to date through surveys on the National Forest Estate. The way that we hold the data means that we can only say which component parts of the estate containing priority open habitats have also had tree planting on them. The actual location of the tree planting within the component seeks to avoid any damage to priority habitats.
The following table provides estimates of the annual area of tree planting since 2010 in those component management units on the NFE within which priority open habitat has also been identified. The rate of woodland establishment in these areas has increased as we have controlled the impacts of browsing by deer, which has allowed natural colonisation to take place, and as FES’s efforts to support national targets for woodland creation have increased.
All areas are assessed and surveyed for the presence of priority open habitats prior to planting as part of FES’s work planning process before operations commence on each site.
Most of the open habitat on which woodland has been established is likely to have been upland heathland. The woodlands that have established are still priority habitats (upland oakwoods, upland birchwoods and native pinewoods) and these share most of the ground flora of the open habitat that they replace. Some of this area has been established through natural colonisation from adjacent ancient semi-natural woodlands.