Soil and water management

Scottish forestry is at a watershed moment. It has to balance increasing cover, whilst providing more environmental services and public benefits. Commercial plantations need to be re-designed as they complete their first rotation.

Planning future forests is vital to ensure good water and soil management. This impacts far beyond a forest, into the rest of the catchment in which it lies.

The benchmark for sustainable forest management in Scotland is the UK Forestry Standard. It publishes legal and good practice requirements in the Soils Guidelines and Water Guidelines.

Forest managers must follow these guidelines to receive approval and grant aid from us. Forest Enterprise Scotland works to these standards in managing Scotland's National Forest Estate.

Soil management

Protecting soil is a crucial part of sustainable forest management. Healthy soil helps produce healthy woodlands. You know a forest is being well-managed if the soil quality is good.

We do varying work to improve soil quality (and how it relates to water quality). This includes managing acidified catchments, reducing compaction and slope instability, and considering appropriate management of forestry on peatland habitats .

Water management

Woods can contribute to water management by planting the right trees in the right place.

Recent research shows the value of river corridor trees – riparian woodlands – in meeting Water Framework Directive aims. Find this research on water management, and more on the Forest Research website.

Relevant support is available under the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

Guidance on applying for grants to support the planting and management of riparian woodlands