Ancient Oak at Sheerwood Forest

Forestry and native woods

The RSPB believes the environmental, social and economic benefits provided by the UK's publicly and privately owned woodland can all be increased.

The UK has a legacy of relatively small, often isolated, native woods many in poor ecological condition. Large areas of forest plantations are reaching felling maturity, some of which were established on open land which was of considerable importance for wildlife. 

Our forestry work

Our forestry-related work includes advocating changes to EU, UK and devolved government policies, providing advice on conservation management to forest owners and managers, and undertaking research into birds and other biodiversity affected by forestry practices.

We work with forest owners and managers to improve the biodiversity quality of their woodlands, for bird species such as black grouse, capercaillie and nightjar, and for habitats such as Caledonian pinewood, lowland heathland, blanket bog and upland oakwoods. 

We own and manage about 88 square kilometres of woodland in the UK. Our woodland work on our reserves ranges from conserving native pinewood at Abernethy Forest for capercaillie, and creating upland wood pasture at Geltsdale for black grouse, to managing upland oakwood at Carngafallt and scrub at Portmore Lough. 

We are also restoring important open ground habitats from plantation forestry, for example peatland habitats at Forsinard Flows for birds such as dunlin, and lowland heathland at Farnham Heath and The Lodge to help woodlark and nightjars.

Action is needed now to:

  • Protect, restore and extend native woods.
  • Restore priority open ground habitats - such as lowland heathland and peat bogs - currently covered by plantation forests.
  • Promote positive woodland management to benefit important biodiversity.
Sessile oak tree, Quercus petraea. Coombes Valley RSPB reserve. Staffordshire, England. May 2007.


A guide to managing forests for rare birds. PDF, 1.9Mb.

Forests and birds

Diseases, pathogens and pests on the UK’s trees is not a new issue. PDF, 646Kb.

Tree diseases in the UK
Blue wood texture background

We wish to see 'sustainable multi-benefit' management of woodland to benefit birds, other wildlife and people.

Forest wildlife and habitats

Black grouse Tetrao tetrix, adult male on lek. Corrimony RSPB reserve. Scotland.

The UK Government’s Wildbird Populations Indicator shows that woodland bird populations have declined by more than 20 per cent between 1976 and 2001.