Page last updated at 18:10 GMT, Monday, 10 May 2010 19:10 UK

First steps towards map of Scotland's native forests

The maps detail native woods and other areas of woodland

A national map of all of Scotland's native forests is starting to emerge for the first time.

Surveyors are conducting research in about 730,000 hectares of woodland across the whole of the country as part of a six-year study.

Their results have so far detailed the location, size and type of forests in eight local authority areas.

The areas covered are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, North, South and East Ayrshire and East Renfrew.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "Scotland's woodlands are becoming increasingly important to us in a number of ways - from sustaining and enhancing biodiversity to helping in the fight against climate change, from serving as a lynchpin for many rural enterprises, to offering a wide range of recreational opportunities to communities across the country.

an oak forest
Oak, silver birch, ash and alder are all found in Scotland's native forests

"This is a hugely important survey and I am confident will make a significant contribution towards protecting, enhancing and expanding this magnificent resource."

Landowners, conservationists and local authorities will be able to use the information gathered to help them protect and develop these woodlands.

The research is being conducted by the Forestry Commission Scotland, with support from Scottish Natural Heritage.

A Forestry Commission spokesman said: "Our forests and woods are becoming increasingly significant factors in key industries such as green tourism and recreation provision.

"There is great potential to utilise the native woodland resource to enjoy these activities, and there is widespread public support for more native woodland in the landscape."

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