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.

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

Achnabreac cup ringmarks

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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Beat the January blues: Events and activities near you


Walkers enjoying the view at Cardrona

The tree is down, the tinsel back in the box, and the leftover turkey is in the dog. What now? This year there are some cracking events and activities happening near you to take your mind off midwinter. We’ve gathered them all in one place, and paired them up with some of our favourite walks.

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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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'Tis the season! Christmas Tree Sales Centres open from 29 November


This week marks the start of our annual Christmas Tree sale at forests and visitor centres across Scotland, with the grand opening of Tyrebagger Christmas Tree Sales Centre, on Thursday 29 November (pictured - keen customers, taking their tree to the till!), and all of our other centres open on 1 December or soon after. Check here to find a centre near you.

Our staff are on hand to help you pick the right tree for your festive season - there’s nothing like the look, feel and scent of a real tree to bring on the Christmas spirit! Once you get your tree home, check out our Top 5 tips for looking after your Christmas Tree.

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