It is a scheme designed to increase biodiversity in Scotland and help to meet the country’s climate change targets.
Open ground species such as Eurasian Curlew could be at risk
The Scottish Government’s ambitious targets to
create 12,000 to 15,000 hectares of new
woodland annually until 2032 should offer many
However, one wildlife charity has warned that not everyone will thrive under the plans.
Research by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) suggests that some birds - such as the melodious songbird Meadow Pipit - may lose out under the treeplanting exercise.
The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that while native woodland
plantations could have overall benets for some breeding birds - care should be taken not to squeeze out important species that inhabit open ground.
Scientists have now warned of the need to plant “the right trees in the right places” - and that climate change initiatives may not be helping some species.
Dr David Douglas, lead author of the research said: “Creating native woodland on moorland should increase the overall number of bird species using these areas, but birds that are adapted to open ground are likely to lose out.
The research looked at the breeding bird communities in native woodland plantations and nearby open moorland in Highland Perthshire.
Overall, more bird species were present in native woodland plantations relative to moorland and the
number of species increased with the age, height and cover of the woodland present.
Many songbird species were also more common in woodland than on moorland, but the Meadow Pipit, which favours open moorland, is expected to lose out through woodland creation.
Researchers concluded: "Native reforestation of open ground offers net gains in bird species richness but could dis-benefit open-ground birds including those of conservation concern.
Where retention of open-ground species is desired, landscape-scale reforestation should consider both
woodland and open-ground wildlife.”
The new research emphasizes that serious thought must be given to how to minimize impacts on open-ground biodiversity of high conservation importance.