There will be many different types of woodland in the Central Scotland Forest, ranging from native broadleaf woodlands to commercial plantations of conifers.
Forest partners aim to establish the right types of woodland in the right places. Although most woodlands fulfil several objectives, they generally fall into one or other of the following categories.
FARM WOODLANDS - Since farmers control about 65 per cent of the Forest area, it is vital that they are encouraged to establish woodlands if the Forest is to succeed. Farm woodlands can range from small amenity plantings in unproductive corners to shelterbelts and larger, timber-producing plantations. Many Forest farmers are interested in trees for shelter, landscape improvement or wildlife.
Many small woodlands in the forest are suffering from lack of management
|Farm woodlands provide shelter for animals as well as timber and other amenity benefits|
Commercial forestry provides an alternative economic land use to agriculture|
COMMERCIAL WOODLANDS - Some land managers will want to grow commercial woodlands designed primarily to produce profitable timber crops. There are opportunities for larger-scale commercial plantations, but most of them occur on poorer-quality, lower-priced land. Native broadleaf trees cannot be relied upon to produce saleable timber in these areas, and such woodlands therefore need to contain a major element of conifers in order to meet financial objectives. Commercial plantations of broadleaves can, however, be established on better land if the owners are willing to convert it from agriculture.
Commercial woodlands are usually sited in rural areas, some distance from towns and villages. Forest partners hope that as many new commercial woodlands as possible will be planted on farms as a diversification of the farm business. Analysis of the impact of woodlands on the area suggests that to achieve the widest possible range of benefits and develop a local woodland economy, about 50 per cent of the Forest's woodlands should have timber production as a main objective.
An example is Auchengean West, established on a 74.7 hectare (183 acre) site between Falkirk and Slamannan. Owned by Callendar Estate, part of the site was farmland and part a reclaimed opencast mine. The woodland comprises mostly Sitka spruce and alder, and it was implemented by Scottish Woodlands Ltd. Tracks allow informal public recreation, and a belt of broadleaf trees and shrubs along the edges helps to enhance the local landscape.
Thinnings will be harvested from about 20 to 25 years after planting, and the final crop after about 45 years. The logs will be suitable for the construction industry and pallet manufacture, while the "tops" are likely to be "chipped" for pulp production or fibreboard manufacture.
RECREATION and AMENITY WOODLANDS - Recreation will be an integral part of the Forest, and a strategic network of interlinked woodland corridors leading to larger wooded recreational areas, such as Country Parks, provides valuable opportunities for long-distance walking, cycling and riding routes.
Most opportunities for establishing large-scale amenity woodlands result from the restoration of mineral workings, such as opencast sites, and the reclamation of derelict land, such as abandoned industrial sites. These sites usually have poor soils and require demanding establishment techniques, and most are unlikely to support quality timber growth, so their main purpose is usually to enhance the landscape and, in many cases, provide recreational opportunities.
COMMUNITY and URBAN WOODLANDS - Trees and woodlands can be used to forge links between urban areas and more extensive rural woodlands. Networks of parks and green "corridors" along railways, rivers, roads and canals can be linked to woodlands on derelict industrial land, especially on the outskirts of towns and villages. Such woodlands provide an opportunity for local communities to become involved in their promotion and management for recreation, amenity, nature conservation and education.
An example is Shotts Village Nature Park, on the outskirts of Shotts, Lanarkshire. As well as woodland and grassland, it features footpaths, benches, a "dipping pond", a willow sculpture, an outdoor teaching area, wildflower areas and a butterfly garden - all developed and managed by local people. They also raise money for its maintenance and development.
Like many such woodlands, the management group is supported by organisations like CSCT and North Lanarkshire Council, who help with equipment for work days, technical advice, and professional assistance at open days and guided walks.
If you are interested in starting or joining a community woodland group in your area, contact the relevant CSCT Community Liaison Officer (CLO). The CLO's are:
In Falkirk and West Lothian - Conor Lanigan;
In North and South Lanarkshire - Glenn Rudman
NATIVE WOODLANDS - There are opportunities in the Forest area for management and expansion of existing semi-natural woodlands and for the creation of new native woodlands. Although their natural heritage importance might limit their commercial potential, some of them will produce timber from native broadleaf trees.
The native woodlands of the Avon Valley
Through the Central Scotland Forest Native Woodlands Initiative, and local projects such as the Clyde Valley Woodlands Initiative, Forest partners are working to enhance and expand the area's few remaining native woodlands. They have been mapped and categorised and, where the owners are interested in managing them, surveys are being undertaken to assess their condition and the work required. The next step is work on the ground, such as new planting and fencing to keep out grazing animals.