Coniferous woodlands

Context

Scots pine Pinus sylvestris is the only native coniferous tree that in the UK that forms significant stands.  Juniper Juniperus communis is typically a scrub species, and yew Taxus baccata is usually present only in small groves, with very few exceptions e.g. Kingley Vale.  Native pinewoods occur in Scotland on infertile, strongly leached, podsolic soils.  They do not support a large diversity of plants and animals compared with some more fertile habitats.  However, there is a characteristic plant and animal community which includes many rare and uncommon species.  The main tree species is Scots pine although birches Betula spp., rowan Sorbus aucuparia, alder Alnus glutinosa, willows Salix spp., and bird cherry Prunus padus are also found.  A shrub understorey, where browsing levels are low, includes common juniper, aspen Populus tremula, holly Ilex aquifolium and hazel Corylus avellana.  Old or dead trees and rotting wood support significant beetle and bryophyte communities.  The field layer is characterised by acid-tolerant plants like bell heather Erica cinerea, blaeberry Vaccinium myrtillus and crowberry Empetrum nigrum.  Bog woodlands of pine on bog are confined to Scotland. 
 
SSSIs can be notified if they qualify under criteria outlined in Chapter 2 Woodlands of the Guidelines for Selection of Biological SSSIs
 

Summary statistics

  SAC A/SSSI Total
Favourable condition 38% 55% 50%
Main monitoring coverage S S  
Reported assessments 16 40 56
Completeness of assessments 84% unknown  
Distribution of features     S
 

Number of assessments reported by country and site type

Country SAC SSSI/ASSI
England 0 0
Scotland 16 40
Wales 0 0
Northern Ireland 0 0
United Kingdom 16 40
 

Natura features

List of Natura 2000 interest features within this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported Total no. of features % assessed
Bog woodland Bog woodland 5 7 71%
Caledonian forest Caledonian forest 11 12 92%
 
Natura 2000 comprises Special Protection Areas (under the Birds Directive) and Special Areas for Conservation (under the Habitats and Species Directive). The list presented here includes all of the qualifying interest features under these Directives, and shows the proportion of these features for which a condition assessment has been made.
 

SSSI features

List of SSSI and ASSI interest features in this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported
Native pinewood Native pinewood 40
 
This list has not been fully standardised at a UK level yet. It is intended to show the principal constituent "feature types" for this reporting category.
 

Maps - distribution

UK distibution of reported interest features

Distribution of reported interest features.

Map showing the locations of the 10km squares in which at least one condition assessment has been reported. It does not show features that have not yet been assessed.

 

Maps - Natura

Distribution of SAC features showing assessments of favourability Condition of SAC features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SAC features
Distribution of SAC features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SAC features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
The implication of the unfavourable-recovering condition assessments is that at some point in the future these features should become favourable. This map shows the effect of that recovery by counting the favourable and unfavourable-recovering assessments together.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not have information on the timescale of the predicted recovery, which may be influenced by many past, natural and human related factors. A sustained sympathetic management regime is more likely to result in favourable condition being attained.

Key: Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable:

Natura map legend - Key: proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

Maps - SSSI

Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features
Distribution of SSSI/ASSI features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
The implication of the unfavourable-recovering condition assessments is that at some point in the future these features should become favourable. This map shows the effect of that recovery by counting the favourable and unfavourable-recovering assessments together.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not have information on the timescale of the predicted recovery, which may be influenced by many past, natural and human related factors. A sustained sympathetic management regime is more likely to result in favourable condition being attained.

Key: Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable:

SSSI map legend - Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

Condition summary

Reporting category condition summary on Natura 2000 sites and SSSI

This lists the 10 different condition assessments and presents a bar chart showing the number of features within the SSSI series and the Natura 2000 series (either SPA for bird features or SAC for features other than birds). Note that for Natura 2000 we are able to estimate the number of features that have not been assessed during the 6 year reporting period - we are unable to do this for SSSI/ASSI because we do not have an overall list of notified interest features for these designations.

 

NB favourable unclassified and unfavourable unclassified have been used in this first six year cycle to get around difficulties in identifying trends in condition as common standards monitoring is implemented. It is expected that these categories will not be used for subsequent assessments of a feature.

 

Condition assessment - Natura 2000 features

The number and proportion of assessments for Natura 2000 (SAC and SPA) interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for Natura 2000 (SAC and SPA) interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the �unfavourable� category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except �unfavourable recovering� which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Condition assessment - SSSI features

The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the �unfavourable� category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except �unfavourable recovering� which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Adverse activities

The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature
The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature. More than one adverse activity may be reported for each feature.
 

Management measures

The measures summary bar chart lists the management measures relevant to the reporting category
For each "measure" the chart shows the number of interest features where that measure has been taken on a site to improve or maintain the condition of an interest feature. More than one measure may be reported for each feature assessed.
 

Interpretation

Assessments for coniferous woodland features have only been undertaken in Scotland.  Coniferous woodland, including 'native pinewood' and 'bog woodland', occurs in a matrix with other woodland types.  The assessments reported are split 50:50 in favourable and unfavourable condition.  This is above the average for terrestrial features and all habitat features, but below the average for all features combined.  55% of A/SSSI and 38% of SAC features reported are in favourable condition.  A further 10% of A/SSSI features reported are unfavourable-recovering.
 
There were no obvious differences in the underlying issues and pressures affecting feature condition in coniferous woodlands to broadleaved woodlands.  Over-grazing is the most frequently reported activity linked with unfavourable condition.  Not only are native pinewoods generally over-grazed and lacking in regeneration, they have been for long periods; for over a century in some cases.  Conservation concerns are, therefore, both the immediate condition and the long term continuity of the woodland, especially the presence of mature trees.