Tales from the forest

Inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests

Tales from the forest

Welcome to the Forestry Commission Scotland blog. Here you'll find inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests.

Where to spot wildlife in Scotland’s forests

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Image: Will Bolding / Unsplash

With spring and the Easter holidays just around the corner, now's the perfect time to start planning your trip to Scotland's best loved wild places. Recently, we've looked at kids activities on a budget, the perfect pit-stops for those long car journeys, and even picked our favourite chilled-out forest trails for a bit of 'forest bathing.' This time, we've selected our ten best destinations for animal lovers to catch a glimpse of the fascinating creatures who call our forests home.

Many of our destinations are equipped with specially-designed nature hides, perfect for getting the best view of the local fauna. In them, and on our trails, you'll find information panels, or in some spots even guided tours, with knowledgeable staff on hand to help you make the most of your time in the woods. Whether you're after a quiet day of watching wildlife in one of our six Forest Parks, or a trip to somewhere rugged and adventurous to spot rare species, we've got all the tips you'll need. 

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Picking the perfect pit-stop

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Image: Alvan Nee / Unsplash

Although last week's early flash of warm weather may have blown away in the March winds for now, Spring is most definitely in the air! Scotland’s beautifully rugged great outdoors is just waiting to be explored.

Whether you're after a woodland walk with a furry friend, or a longer weekend stroll with the whole family, we've picked ten spots perfect for a quick stretch of the legs, all en route to some of Scotland's best-loved destinations. If you're on your way somewhere this weekend, plan a trip via one of our perfect pit-stops. You could even bring a picnic!

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Romantic places to visit in the forest

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Photo: Caroline Veronez / Unsplash

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner…

We reckon the forest is one of the romantic places to woo a loved one this February 14th, so we’ve put together a guide on the best places to take a dreamy stroll, plan a woodland wedding or even pop that all-important question!

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Looking after our brilliant bugs

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Photo: Sean Stratton / Unsplash

An alarming new study, discussed in The Guardian today, has found that more than 40% of the world's insect populations are now in decline. Coverage of environmental issues tends to focus on more camera-friendly species, but insects are just as vital to our planet's support systems — perhaps even more so. With the total mass of insects on the planet now declining at a rate of 2.5% every year, experts fear that we could lose all of the insects on our planet within 100 years, unless we take action.

It's time for everyone to rediscover their passion for bugs, and help conserve this vital link in our ecosystem. Today, we take a look at two of the most common species you can find in Scotland. Find out what we as an organisation are doing to protect them, and how you can help.

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Can wild places help us heal?

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Photo: Malte Schmidt / Unsplash

On one of last week’s episodes of BBC Winterwatch, the team spent some time discussing mental health issues, and how spending time in the outdoors, and re-engaging with the world of plants, animals and trees can help people restore a bit of balance to their inner lives.

The team spoke to author Joe Harkness about his book, Bird Therapy, and how he developed a passion for birdwatching as part of his recovery from a period of mental illness.

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Short story competition: Mystery of the Achnabreac carvings

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Tucked away in the hills of Argyll, just a few miles from Lohgilphead, are the world-famous prehistoric ‘cup and ring’ marks of Achnabreac. These mysterious patterns were carved into rocks throughout Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales and around Europe, in Greece, Italy, and as far north as Scandinavia...

  • Read on to find out more about our new short story competition for ages 10 and up!
  • UPDATE! Due to popular demand, entries now close 28 February, with a winner to be announced in March.
  • Teachers: Download a poster for the competition here.

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Let’s play Bird Bingo! Round 1: Birds in your garden

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Photo: Edi Libedinsky on Unsplash

Just in time for RSPB’s 2019 Big Garden Bird Watch (26-28 January), we’ve pooled our ornithological knowledge and designed a quick reference guide to some of Scotland’s best-loved birds! It’s a fun game anyone can join in with - and in this blog post, we’ll give you a few extra facts about these bird species. Grab some binoculars, get the bird feeders set up, and let’s play… Bird Bingo!

The first card features six birds you should be able to see almost year-round in your back garden, on the village common, or in your local woodlands. If you manage to get all six on your first go, why not head to your nearest forest with a nature hide, and see if you can spot some of our rarer species? We'll post Round 2 tomorrow right here on our blog.


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A preview of the Bird Bingo playing cards - click to download Part 1! Part 2 coming tomorrow.

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Bird Bingo is back! Round 2: Woodland Birds


If you’ve been taking part in RSPB’s 2019 Big Garden Bird Watch (26-28 January), you might already have seen Part 1 of our quick reference guide to some of Scotland’s best-loved birds, commonly found in our gardens. We hope you enjoyed Bird Bingo Round 1 - it's a quick, fun, easy game for the whole family to enjoy!

Here in Part 2, we’ll give you another six bird species to spot, this time in your local woodland or forest… you’ll have to work a bit harder to see all of these specimens. Grab those binoculars, find a forest near you, and let’s play… Bird Bingo Round 2!

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A preview of the Bird Bingo playing cards - click to download: Round 1 or Round 2.

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Press play: How to preserve leaves and plants

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Image by Marcus Spiske via Unsplash.

As the year draws to a close, you might think outdoor activities are off the table, but don’t be too hasty! Leaf pressing is a brilliant activity for autumn and early winter. Get out and capture the quiet beauty of the trees and plants in nature.

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