Native woodland model

An understanding of the potential of different areas within a landscape to support different woodland types is crucial to planning the restoration and expansion of native woodland. The native woodland model has been developed as a strategic tool to aid those involved in such projects, whether on currently unwooded land or in non-native forest plantations. It is suitable for use at scales above 1:50 000.

The methodology relies on the interpretation of integrated soils and land cover data in relation to the growth requirements of different woodland types. Combinations of these attributes are assessed and an optimal native woodland type is assigned to each combination. This is a very pragmatic model and uses major soil subgroups and geology (effectively soil series in a Scottish context), rather than specific attributes and thresholds. This is then qualified by land cover, which has been used to assess how the soil may or may not have been modified by human intervention. The approach might best be described as 'map unit interpretation', qualified by knowledge of current land cover (from LCS88, although LCM2000 is equally valid and possibly more so because of its currency).


Towers, W, Hester, A J, Malcolm, A, Stone, D and Gray, H.   2002.  The use of soils data in natural heritage planning and management.  Soil Use and Management, 18, 26–33.

Hester, A J, Towers, W and Malcolm, A.  2003.  Modelling the potential distribution of woodland at the landscape scale.  In: The restoration of wooded landscapes (Eds. J Humphrey, A Newton, J Latham, H Gray, K Kirby, E Poulson and C Quine).  Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Towers, W, Hester, A J, Malcolm, A, Hall, J and Stone, D.  2004.  The potential for native woodland in Scotland: the native woodland model. Scottish Natural Heritage, Battleby, Perth. Natural Heritage Management Series. 56p. Includes CD ROM. ISBN 1 85397 390 4.

For more information on the native woodland model, refer to

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Native Woodland Model legend

Map legend

Key NSRI native woodland
Salt marsh
Alder with common reed — W2
Birch with purple moor grass — W4
Alder with stinging nettle — W6
Lowland mixed broadleaves with dog's mercury — W8
Lowland oak–birch with bluebell/wild hyacinth — W10
Upland oak–birch with bluebell/wild hyacinth — W11
Beech–sh with dog's mercury — W12
Beech–oak with bramble — W14
Beech–oak with wavy hair-grass — W15
Lowland oak–birch with bilberry/blaeberry — W16
Upland oak–birch with bilberry/blaeberry — W17
Scots pine with heather — W18
Water body
Title Native woodland model
Source Cranfield National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI), Cranfield University
Scale(s) 1:250 000
Coverage England and Wales
Format GIS polygon data. (ESRI, MapInfo, other formats available by request.)
Price For more information about licensing data see
Uses Regional to national level use
Map Viewer View in UKSO Map Viewer
WMS link
Images High resolution | low resolution