UK Woodland Habitats


The UK is a sparsely wooded country: 11.5% of Great Britain is covered with trees. Only 1.2% of GB is ancient semi-natural woodland, a valuable and irreplaceable natural resource. Ancient semi-natural woodland, and plantations on ancient woodland sites, are a priority for conservation.


The Ancient Woodland Inventory, maintained by each country agency, records the location and extent of ancient semi-natural woodland in GB. The best examples are protected by SSSI/ASSI and SAC designations, covering approximately 21% of the ancient woodland area. The Forestry Commission also produce and maintain an National Inventory of Woodland and Trees.  


Many woods are threatened by neglect. Reintroduction of management is critical where species of open woodlands are in serious decline or where spread of invasive non-native species threatens long-established vegetation communities. Removal of non-native trees planted in ancient woodlands during the last 100 years can help to restore sites with remnant ground flora and old native trees. The Forestry Commission have a policy against clearance of broadleaved woodland for conversion to other land use, and towards conservation of the character of ancient semi-natural woodlands.


Several woodland types were Priority Habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP):

  • Lowland beech and yew woodland
  • Wood-pasture and parkland
  • Native pine woodlands
  • Upland mixed ashwoods
  • Upland oakwood
  • Wet woodland
  • Mixed broadleaved woodland (Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland)
  • Upland birchwoods 



The nature conservation value of scrub in Britain (2000)
JNCC Report 308


A pilot study to examine the potential linkage between and applications of multiple woodland datasets: a GIS-based analysis (1999)
Purdy, K.M. & Ferris, R.
JNCC Report 298


The relationship between Biodiversity Action Plan Priority and Broad Habitat Types, and other woodland classifications (1998)
Hall, J.E. & Kirby, K.J.
JNCC Report 288


The conservation of lower plants in woodland (1996)
Hodgetts, N.G.


Long-term ecological change in British woodlands (1971-2000) (2001)
English Nature Research Reports No. 653

National vegetation classification field guide to woodland (2001)
Hall, J.E., Kirby, K.J. & Whitbread, A.M.
Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough


Objective setting and condition monitoring within woodland Sites of Special Scientific Interest
Kirby, K., Latham, J., Holl, K., Bryce, J., Corbett, P. & Watson, R. (2002)
English Nature Research Reports, No. 472


The nature conservation value of scrub in Britain (2000)
Mortimer, S.R., Turner, A.J., Brown, V.K., Fuller, R.J., Good, J.E.G., Bell, S.A., Stevens, P.A., Norris, D., Bayfield, N. & Ward, L.K.
JNCC Report 308


European significance of British woodland types (1998)
Rodwell, J. & Dring, J.
English Nature Research Reports, No. 460


Measuring long term ecological change in British woodlands (1971–2000). A pilot re-survey of 14 sites from the ITE/NCC 'Bunce 1971' woodland survey and two sites from the 1971 Native Pinewood Survey (2001)
Smart, S.M., Bunce, R.G.H., Black, H.J., Ray, N., Bunce F., Kirby, K., Watson, R. & Singleton, D.
English Nature Research Reports, No. 461


Wood-pasture and parkland habitat action plan: progress report 2001 (2002)
Watson, R.
English Nature Research Reports, No. 459


Common Standards Monitoring for Woodland


Forestry Commission


Please note that the woodland webpages are under revision, and will be updated.