Scottish Forestry is currently developing a new, more integrated approach to how we assist land managers with considering opportunities for new woodlands, particularly those of a larger scale, in the context of future land use. 

This work, part of Scottish Forestry’s remit from the Scottish Government, is being undertaken in partnership with four local authorities in the South of Scotland: Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Scottish Borders, and South Lanarkshire. 

At present, work is focused on a limited number of pilot areas, using these to help develop useful solutions for any similar work done in wider rural Scotland in the future. 


A key objective of the Scottish Government is to support and grow the rural economy through sustainable mixed land use where forestry, farming, conservation and sporting interests work well together and are managed in an integrated way. 

Land in much of upland Scotland has considerable potential to deliver multiple economic, environmental and social benefits. These include:

  • food and timber production
  • carbon capture and storage
  • flood risk management
  • places for recreation 

The Scottish Government supports woodland creation as part of future land use in Scotland. This will contribute towards fulfilling Scottish Government targets on climate change and biodiversity targets as well as helping to underpin the sustainable supply of wood products to the Scottish forestry industry. 

The current planting target is 12,000 hectares in 2020, increasing to 15,000 hectares per annum by 2024/25. 

The Scottish Government continues to consider new ways of meeting that target, and this project aims to develop more robust guidance to land managers about opportunities for new woodlands on their land, building on the existing directions given through local authority woodland strategies. These are helpful albeit to a limited point as they employ a fully strategic approach. This can result in a range of issues.

Aim of Project

This project seeks to further develop these existing woodland strategies by conducting a more detailed opportunity mapping exercise in a limited number of pilot areas. The key aim is to more effectively address some of the limitations identified with the existing approach.

In doing so, we hope to not just help land managers better understand the potential opportunities but also seek to deliver wider benefits for the environment and communities in these areas.

Further Information

For further information on the project’s progress, check out our story map, an interactive storytelling app with all the details.

Accompanying Documents

A number of pieces of work have been undertaken as part of this project. The following documents explain in more detail some of this work.

Landscape Capacity Study - Scottish Borders Pilot Areas 1 & 2

The aim of this landscape capacity study is to consider opportunities for new woodlands to be accommodated in two pilot areas in the Scottish Borders as part of the Regional Strategic Woodland Creation Project. 

The study considers current landscape character and uses the recently revised Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Scottish Landscape Character Types Map and Descriptions. It is supplemented with further observations on physical character, visual amenity and perceptual qualities gained from field survey of the local landscape.  

Black Grouse Evaluation Report - Scottish Borders Pilot Areas 1 & 2

The aim of this report is to consider the potential impacts and opportunities new woodlands may have in respect to black grouse populations in the two Scottish Borders pilot areas as part of the Regional Strategic Woodland Creation Project. 

The report considers recent changes in black grouse numbers, their distribution and the location of the sites in context with the wider black grouse population in southern Scotland. It also considers the suitability and extent of moorland habitats in relation to recent changes in land use, identifying key areas for management and opportunities for environmental enhancement to retain connectivity between areas, while identifying less sensitive areas.

Attitudes to Woodland Expansion in Southern Scotland

This report documents a Forest Research led study into attitudes towards landscape benefits and woodland creation in Southern Scotland, commissioned by Scottish Forestry as part of wider work done relating to the Regional Woodland Creation Pilot.

Stakeholder Engagement to Inform Development of a Regional Woodland Creation Framework -  Scottish Borders Pilot Areas 1 & 2 

This work was commissioned as part of a wider project to develop and pilot an approach in identified areas to consider the capacity for woodland creation in the context of overall land use.  This study aims to i) develop a methodology to engage with key stakeholders, consider the main issues and seek to develop solutions to these issues; in order to ii) inform the development of a woodland creation Framework, which may be both spatial and criteria based, in the next (third) stage of the overall Scottish Borders Regional Strategic Woodland Creation project.

Developing tools to recognise constraints and opportunities for breeding birds associated with forest expansion: Pilot Forest Areas in the Scottish Borders 

The aim of this report considers how forest expansion can provide both constraints and opportunities to species of conservation concern, and recognises the need to provide tools for use by those who are considering creating new woodlands and by those who assess and grant permissions for such proposals.

Work on this modelling methodology will continue to refine this approach. Further improvements will be made to the environment data sources and strategic model outputs used to assist decisions and actions. Agreement is still required in relation to agreeing how these outputs can assist discussions to identify potential woodland expansion areas.  

Regional Strategic Woodland Creation Project Mapping Methodology - Scottish Borders Pilot Areas 1 & 2 

This document lays out the process and methodology of approach in identifying the two pilot areas in the Scottish Borders as part of the wider pilot project.