Highland Birchwoods

Promoting best practice in the sustainable management of forests and woodlands.

Forest Habitat Networks Forest Habitat Networks Forest Habitat Networks

Forest Habitat Networks

In common with many countries, woodlands once covered a large proportion of the UK.  Human influence has been profound, and what semi-natural woodland remains has been reduced to small and isolated fragments, with a corresponding impact on biodiversity.

Forest Habitat Networks are a strategic concept to help address the negative effects of fragmentation, and use of GIS-based evaluation tools (such as the suite of BEETLE software developed by Forest Research and partners) will help in targeting the most effective – and least conflicting – places for woodland creation.  

The Highland Locational Premium

There are many existing Forest Habitat Networks in Scotland and the locational premium is intended to encourage new woodland planting to create links between existing networks in Highland region. 


To be eligible for the locational premium, the new woodland must:

To ensure best value network links, applications will be assessed by both the area of new woodland created and the consequent increase in network size.  To qualify for the locational premium, the ratio of new woodland in relation to the size of the network area created must exceed threshold values as detailed below.

“New habitat score”
i.e. total area of habitat in new network (ha) minus largest area of habitat in existing networks (ha)

i.e. “new habitat score” divided by area of new woodland planted (ha) 

Size of new woodland eligible for premium (ha)









If these minimum scores are not reached, then the scheme is not eligible







Up to 20

Premium payable on up to 20 ha of new woodland planted, but proportionality means that ‘new habitat score’ needs to be one and a half times as big as new area planted*






Up to 50

Premium payable on up to 50 ha of new woodland planted, but proportionality means that ‘new habitat score’ needs to be three times as big as new area planted*







Up to 100

Premium payable on up to 100 ha of new woodland planted, but proportionality means that ‘new habitat score’ needs to be four times as big as new area planted*



A public seminar was held on Wednesday 29th March on the Highland Locational Premium. PDF's of the presentations can be downloaded below including case studies of hypothetical schemes:

  1. Network Concepts, Jonathan Humphrey, Forest Research
  2. Forest Habitat Networks, Jeanette Hall, Scottish Natural Heritage
  3. The BEETLE GIS tool, Darren Moseley, Forest Research
  4. Highland Forest and Woodland Strategy, Robert Patton, Highland Council
  5. Highland Locational Premium Scheme, Steve Smith, Forestry Commission
  6. Case studies and HB's role, Phil Baarda, Highland Birchwoods


Surgeries and one-to-one evaluation

As the assessment of a scheme is complex, the intention is to use a series of public ‘surgeries’ where agency staff will available to assess proposals (click here for dates and further information), with additional one-to-one evaluation with FCS staff and Highland Birchwoods technical/specialist support as appropriate. By using this approach, alternatives can be explored to create the best possible schemes for all concerned, and an early indication of acceptability given to applicants. It is anticipated that the best value schemes for all concerned will involve a collaborative approach between adjacent land managers and stakeholders.


Forestry Commission Scotland
Highland Conservancy,
Fodderty Way, Dingwall IV15 9XB
Tel: 01349 862144
Fax: 01349 866624

Phil Baarda
Highland Birchwoods,
Littleburn Road,
Tel: 01463 811663
Fax: 01463 811607


Ecological Site Classification
Native Woodland Model
Highland Indicative Forest strategy
Highland Forest Habitat network maps
Highland Local Biodiversity Action Plans
Information on BEETLE and Forest Habitat Networks
The Forestry Commission’s information note no. 73:
Evaluating Biodiversity in Fragmented Landscapes: Principles

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Highland Birchwoods is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland (no. 142892).

Highland Birchwoods, Littleburn, Munlochy, Ross-Shire Scotland IV8 8NN

Tel: +44 (0) 1463 811 606 Fax: +44 (0) 1463 811 607 Email: