The practise of sustainable forestry aims to achieve better integration between woodlands and other valued habitats, as a means of enhancing biodiversity at the landscape scale.

Habitat networks allow species to move and disperse through the landscape across key woodland and open habitat types. Some research into forest ecosystems at the 14 SFA sites across Scotland has already been undertaken and is informing the body of scientific knowledge of how and why species colonise particular areas (see links below).

Ecologists developed a methodology for monitoring species on the sites in order to assess changes in biodiversity as the new woods develop. It involves measuring the evidence of activity of particular insect species, on a known unit of woodland habitat. It has been referred to as the ‘smoking gun’ approach because it relies on evidence these creatures leave behind that make it possible to calculate an index of diversity for that habitat unit. By sampling a range of woods with different known dates of origin, the diversity index over time will reflect how the woodland has grown and developed, and whether it is healthy and functioning properly. The methodology works on the hypothesis that the amount and diversity of insect life will change in a woodland area as it matures.

The research Future Woodlands Scotland supports increases our understanding of how native woodland ecosystems develop, which can inform future conservation policy and practise.

Future Woodlands Scotland is a registered Scottish Charity No SC043508