Where will new woodlands yield the greatest benefits for bird conservation?

Where will new woodlands yield the greatest benefits for bird conservation?

Woodland creation, through both tree-planting and natural regeneration of trees on open land, can be a nature-based solution with numerous societal benefits including for biodiversity.

However, the conversion of open habitats to new woodlands can negatively affect the conservation of open-habitat species, and much of the current policy and guidance on woodland creation focuses on the protect of open-habitat species.

Resources and information to allow decision-makers to maximise the positive effects of type, location or management of new woodlands on birds will complement existing tools, enabling woodland creation to become a more positive force for nature conservation.

Key Activities

Random forest regression tree modelling will be used to predict abundance of declining bird species across all tetrads in Scotland, England and Wales. Species selected will be those for which woodland creation could yield positive conservation outcomes. Models will include a wide range of environmental predictors, including land cover composition, climate, elevation, geographical position, and cover, extent, configuration, type and structure of woodland. These models will be used to predict how abundance of woodland birds will respond to different woodland creation scenarios.

Conservation Impact

The maps produced by this project will help policy-makers, regulators, conservationists and land managers to better understand where woodland creation can have the most positive impacts on birds. These maps will complement existing information aimed at minimising negative impacts of woodland creation on species of open habitats. Together, these resources will provide decision-makers with the tools to make better decisions about woodland creation, and to take more strategic approach to this land-use change, making it a more positive force for nature conservation.

Expected Impact on Team Development and Capacity Building

The partners in this collaboration have expertise in bird ecology, use of remote-sensing data to assess woodland structure, tree planting assessment and regulation, and planning of woodland creation. Bringing these skill sets and backgrounds together will not only help to ensure the success of this project, but will strengthen the breadth of all partners’ understanding about how positive effects of woodland creation on bird populations and nature conservation can be maximised. Moreover, forging a working partnership between scientists, conservation practitioners and regulators will strengthen the positive impact that science can have on conservation outcomes.


The main outputs of this project will be based on ‘opportunity maps’ showing the responses of individual bird species to different woodland creation scenarios. The project will also produce maps that combine information from multiple species, accompanied by guidance that facilitates their use. Maps will be hosted online and made freely accessible for all stakeholders and members of the public to view and use alongside existing decision-making tools. A peer-reviewed academic paper will explains how the same approach can be applied to other situations.

CCI partners Involved

Other Organisations Involved

Name: Sarah Anthony

Organisation, job title: Natural England, Senior Ornithologist

Email: Sarah.Anthony@naturalengland.org.uk


Name: Neil Riddle

Organisation, job title: Forestry Commission, Forest Services, Head of Natural Environment

Email: neil.riddle@forestrycommission.gov.uk


Photo by Joyce G