Guidance on using Native Woodland Survey of Scotland data

This guidance aims to help users of information from the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland (NWSS) to understand the data and how it can be used.

What is the survey and how will results be published?

The survey is creating a woodland map linked to a spatial dataset which describes the type, extent, composition and condition of all native woods in Scotland over 0.5ha in area.

Planted woods on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) will also be surveyed, even where they are not mainly native in species composition, in order to provide information to help maintain or restore their remaining biodiversity value.

The results are being published in a series of summary reports for each local authority area. The spatial datasets for each area will be made available for local spatial queries on Forestry Commission web browsers, and data and training will be offered to GIS users who wish to analyse the data more extensively.

How to use this guidance

Data from NWSS can be used in many ways and at national, regional, and local or woodland scales.

Guidance is in 7 sections:

    1. Native woodland information
    2. Ancient woodland information
    3. Other survey information relevant to both native and ancient woods
    4. Management planning
    5. Native woodlands and grant support
    6. Native woodland plans on the National Forest Estate
    7. Development planning

Examples of use at national or regional scale

  • Provides an overview as context for regional and local assessments and decision making, such as SEAs and EIAs, or SSSI condition assessment or selection
  • Informs national reporting for priority woodland habitats, by providing common baseline information on area and condition
  • Information on management and ecosystem services / values to inform policy and strategies
  • Information for development and land use planning of various kinds including development plans, Local Biodiversity Action Plans, Indicative Forestry Strategies/Forestry Frameworks, national park plans, habitat network and green network planning, and wider scenario development and testing
  • Strategic planning of the delivery of targets for native woods (expansion, improvement and restoration)
  • Identifying potential habitat for threatened/priority species (linking to data on niches and distribution)

Examples of use at local scale

  • Informing Forest plans/Forest design plans, woodland management plans
  • Detailed habitat network development and location of new native woods
  • Baseline for monitoring change in individual woods