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.

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.

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


The report, Scotland's Native Woodlands, was released on 3rd February 2014 by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, the then Minister for Environment and Climate Change. The 100-page document gives a national overview of the NWSS results and assesses the state of Scotland’s native woodlands:

Scotland’s Native Woodlands: Results from the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland (PDF 5.3MB)

You can also view the results as detailed digital maps and native woodland composition data:

  • 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 survey dataset for Geographical Information Systems (GIS) users, currently in Esri shapefile format.

What can the survey results be used for?

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

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


Useful information