Acidic dry woodland

Possible BAP priority habitat typeScottish Forestry GuideNVC
Native pine woodlands 7. Native pinewoods W18
Upland oakwood 5. Upland oakwoods W17
Upland birchwoods 6. Upland birchwoods W17
Lowland mixed deciduous woodland 3. Lowland Mixed Broadleaved Woods W16
Wood pasture and parkland    

Woodland description

This woodland type includes all upland and upland fringe woodlands on acidic soils that are not poorly drained, as well as woodland on very acid lowland heaths. Woodland on mildly base-poor soils with a grassy field layer (NVC: W11) is included in the neutral dry woodland type.

Included in acidic dry woodland are:

  • All woods where Scots pine is frequent and abundant in the canopy, often with a strong element of birch and rowan, sometimes juniper. It includes mature pine stands that have invaded former heathland but not Scots pine growing as ‘bog woodland’
  • Birch and/or oak dominated woodland on acid soils, including young birch woodland on lowland heaths
  • Wood pasture and parkland on acid soils.

Native birch, oak or pine woodlands occur throughout the uplands and upland fringes. Birch and oak woodland may occur on acid soils in the lowlands, in ravines and on heaths. Wood pasture and parkland on acid soils in the uplands and upland fringes are likely to have the characteristics of very open, ancient, semi-natural woodland.

Ground flora

The ground flora will be influenced by soil conditions, altitude and grazing history but may include:

  • Heaths: Heath communities are associated particularly with pine woodland but may occur in oak and birch woodland as well. Species include heather, bell heather, cross-leaved heath, blaeberry and cowberry.
  • Herbs: Tormentil and heath bedstraw are generally constants.
  • Ferns, grasses and rushes: Both bracken and grasses can be abundant or even dominant, with the latter typical of woodlands that have been consistently heavily grazed. Birch woodland that is long-established may also have a grassy sward. Purple moor-grass may be abundant in western woods at low altitudes.  Great woodrush may be dominant where the wood is not heavily grazed.  Locally, ferns such as broad buckler-fern and lemon scented-fern may be abundant.
  • Lower plants: Mosses and liverworts are generally frequent amongst other field layer species in the west and can be dominant under upland oak or birch woodlands on very acid soils. They are much less frequent in the drier east of Scotland.

Forage potential

Generally, acidic dry woodland has low forage potential, especially where the ground flora is dominated by mosses or bracken. The greatest productivity can be expected from open woodland with a grassy field layer.

See also: