Woodlands

Across Scotland you’ll find woodlands bursting with an abundance of wildlife, from birds and beavers to lichens and fungi.

In many cases, our woodlands are full of ancient trees that have stood for centuries. Not only do we want to protect these woodlands as a home for native wildlife, but we also want to make sure that we celebrate our unique plantlife.

Here are a few different kinds of woodland you can find at our places.

Caledonian pinewood

Caledonian pinewood

Scotland is famous for its native Caledonian pinewoods, and much of our management of Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve is aimed at increasing the cover of Scots pines. We start by carefully conserving the stately old ‘granny pines’, still producing viable seed after some 200 years, and then we protect the seedlings from grazing red and roe deer. Now, after decades of hard work, Scots pines are springing up in glens that have been largely devoid of seedlings for as long as anyone can remember.

Birch and oak woodland

Birch and oak woodland

Birch and oak woodlands are more characteristic of the wetter, western parts of Scotland. The fantastic Coille Mhor (‘great wood’) at Balmacara forms the core of the Wester Ross Biosphere Reserve. The reserve was established in 2016 and extends from Balmacara to cover carefully preserved and expanding fragments of woodland at Torridon, Inverewe, Kintail and West Affric.

Montane scrub

Montane scrub

Where woodland extends up the mountainside, it eventually gives way to montane scrub, often characterised by willows, juniper and dwarf birch. Our pioneering work at Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve has led to thriving areas of these shrubs close to the natural tree line, providing a safe home for a variety of flowering plants and insects. Montane willows also flourish at Glencoe National Nature Reserve and Grey Mare’s Tail.

Lowland woodland

Lowland woodland

Mixed woodlands of large broadleaved trees are a feature of many of our lowland places. The magnificent Old Wood of Drum is home to beautifully preserved ancient trees, some of which date back to its time as a royal hunting forest. Other woods, such as those at Crathes Castle, Culzean Country Park, Brodick Country Park and Castle Fraser, provide beautiful examples of woodland communities of plants and animals.

3 key properties

Mar Lodge Estate

The ancient Scots pine is ‘a viking trunk, a warrior tree’ (as poet Robert Service wrote) and our country’s national tree. Mar Lodge Estate is renowned for its Caledonian pine, but you’ll also find the famous Quoich wetlands here, where waders, otters and water voles breed.

A view across Glen Lui in the summer
A view across Glen Lui in the summer

Killiecrankie

The River Garry flows through Killiecrankie – a tranquil wooded gorge where the Highlands meet the Lowlands, brimming with birch, oak and hazel trees that turn gold and crimson in the autumn. There’s also an abundance of wildlife here, from red squirrels and woodpeckers, to unusual fungi.

The River Garry and wooded gorge at Killiecrankie
The River Garry and wooded gorge at Killiecrankie

Balmacara

Balmacara Woods have forest paths perfect for hikers of all abilities. A mixture of simple and strenuous trails lead walkers past a wide range of trees, from rowan and birch, to lime and cherry trees, and lichen-covered oak and ash trees.

Walking through Coille Mhor, 'the great wood', at Balmacara
Walking through Coille Mhor, the ‘great wood’, at Balmacara

Did you know?

If you crush bog myrtle between your fingers, it releases a sweet medicinal smell. This was traditionally used as a way to keep midges away. Worth a try!