Woodland Biodiversity Project

This project aims to help woodland owners manage their woods for wildlife and advise on grants which are available to help them.

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes, male at site baited with sunflower seed


Many woodland-dependent birds are currently declining; some at an alarming rate. This is also true for other woodland wildlife, including butterflies, some bats, and woodland flowers. The population of willow tits in the British Isles declined by 91 per cent between 1967 and 2010, while the pearl bordered fritillary butterfly recently declined 42 per cent over ten years, and 56 of 72 woodland ground flora species declined between 1971 and 2001.
Many of these declines may be associated with a decline in management of woodlands in recent decades. Woodland owners may be put off re-instating management in their woodlands due to initial costs of developing a management system and any related infrastructure. However, markets for woodland products have been improving and sustainable woodland management can benefit both wildlife and local economies.


  • The project aims to kick-start appropriate management of woods so woodland owners can continue to manage them in the future, benefiting local economies and wildlife in the process.
  • Advice can be given to woodland owners on managing their woods to benefit wildlife, and on Forestry Commission grants (English Woodland Grant Scheme) for woodland management. The grants scheme is currently being reviewed but some grants are still available (see Forestry commission website for details). Any type of woodland may be eligible for a grant, depending on circumstances.
  • The Forestry Commission and RSPB have jointly appointed a Woodland Biodiversity Adviser to work with woodland owners in the project target areas (East Midlands and East of England).
  • Site visits can be made by the Woodland Biodiversity Adviser to give advice on individual woodland sites
  • For more information on the project please visit the Forestry Commission website.
  • If you own a woodland in the target area and would like advice on woodland management for wildlife, or on which grants you could receive, please contact Jacqueline Weir at jaqueline.weir@rspb.org.uk


Key Dates

  • Woodland management training courses have been arranged for Thursday 17 July 2014 (Maulsden, Bedfordshire) and Wednesday 23 July 2014 (Langwith, Derbyshire). The full range of RSPB habitat management training courses for 2014 are currently in the planning process.
  • The English Woodland Grant Scheme closed for most new applicants in August 2013, however some grants are still available. Get in touch for information and advice.

Planned Work

The Woodland Biodiversity Adviser will remain in post until at least July 2014 and will continue to advise on woodland grants where these are still available. Any woodland owner in the East Midlands or East of England may also ask for advice on non-grant-related matters, even if relevant grants are not available. Work will focus particularly on areas where priority declining species such as willow tit are present, and on areas of high conservation importance, such as Nature Improvement Areas.


Woodland owners managing a combined total of 160 square kilometres of woodland have received advice through the Woodland Biodiversity Project since 2009. Around half of this woodland area is being actively restructured or improved for wildlife through Forestry Commission grants or permissions. A dedicated Woodland Biodiversity Adviser was appointed in August 2012, since when woodland owners managing around 25 square kilometres have received advice. These included a number of smaller private woodland owners, councils and charities. We have also been working with other organisations to advise on landscape-scale conservation projects, and to develop our management advice for different species (insects, bats and plants).
We are working with RSPB Conservation Scientists to develop monitoring and to test the effects of various woodland management prescriptions on declining species. Advice sheets are being produced on management for particular species; the willow tit advice sheet is available below.


The Woodland Biodiversity Adviser is jointly funded by Forestry Commission and the RSPB. The project advice panel includes members from Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and Bat Conservation Trust.


This project is jointly funded by Forestry Commission and RSPB.



Coast on a stormy day

Jacqueline Weir

Woodland Biodiversity Advisor, Technical Advise Unit

Tagged with: Country: England Habitat: Woodland Project status: Project types: Advocacy