Native Woodland Survey of Scotland (NWSS)

The Native Woodland Survey of Scotland (NWSS) was carried out from 2006-2013 in order to establish the first authoritative picture of Scotland's native woodlands.

The field-based survey, whose results were released in full in February 2014, was undertaken by Forestry Commission Scotland to identify and map the location, extent, type and condition of all of Scotland's native woodlands.

These pages contain information and guidance on the NWSS, including why the survey was done, methodology, results, and how to access maps and data. The full dataset is freely available to view online or download, see the guidance on using NWSS data.

Why was the survey carried out?

Native woodlands have played an important part in Scottish culture, having been used for wood, shelter, hunting and forage throughout our history. They are also important for biodiversity and nature conservation, and provide numerous other economic and cultural benefits.

Although much has been done in recent decades to protect, restore and expand our remaining native woods, until now there has not been a reliable national inventory to help plan further action. The NWSS equips us with that information by providing a sound, detailed and accurate understanding of the location, condition, extent and composition of our native woodland resource.

The survey, carried out by highly trained field surveyors over seven years, is the first consistent and authoritative national survey of Scotland's native woods.

Doesn't the Forestry Commission already have this information?

No. This is the most complete survey of its kind, identifying the location and types of all native woodlands in Scotland.

Previous surveys have focussed on regions of Scotland, specific types of woodland, or woodlands at a larger scale, thus excluding some small but important native woodland habitats. Differences in the way that information was collected make it very difficult to compare the results.

Where can I view the survey results, maps and data?

NWSS results are publically available and can be viewed and downloaded in various ways.

Previous visitors to these pages should note that, from Feb 2014, updates include national, Highland, National Parks and Central Scotland Green Network reports. Also, Highland data are now available on the Map Viewer and data download site.

Forestry Commission Scotland has published a number of summary reports compiled from NWSS data:

  • The national report, released on 3rd Feb 2014, can be downloaded from the national report page along with other accompanying documents.
  • Summary reports for Local Authorities (Councils) can be found on the local reports page, along with reports for National Parks and the Central Scotland Green Network.

Detailed digital maps and native woodland composition data can be accessed in two ways:

  • The online Map Viewer allows users to view and explore native woodland locations and attribute data at a variety of scales.
  • The data download site provides the full NWSS dataset for Geographical Information Systems (GIS) users, currently in Esri shapefile format

Where can I find out more about the survey?

If you have any queries please contact the NWSS survey team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More information and background to the survey can be found in the following three articles from Scottish Forestry, the journal of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society (reproduced with their kind permission):