The Forestry Commission's Native Woodland Survey of Scotland (NWSS), published last year, showed that more than half of Scotland's native woods are in an "unsatisfactory" condition, and that as much as 14 per cent of Scotland's ancient woodland has been lost in the last 40 years.
The trust's public affairs manager for Scotland Charles Dundas said: "The main culprit is not development, which accounts for less than 1 per cent of the loss, but failed regeneration, climate change, or inappropriate grazing."
Woodland Trust representatives were among a group of experts formed to discuss courses of action in the light of the findings, fulfilling an SNP manifesto commitment to "begin a consultation on actions we can take to protect these highly biodiverse [ancient] woodlands".
The group produced a 24-page report "stuffed with great recommendations", Dundas said, which were passed to the Scottish Government's Biodiversity Strategy team, with some then included in its Biodiversity Route Map to 2020.
But the Woodland Trust also wants to see the Scottish Government commit to:
- include a specific native and ancient woodlands vision and strategy as part of the review of the Scottish Forestry Strategy expected next year;
- halt losses of ancient and semi-natural native woodlands;
- restore at least 15 per cent of degraded ancient woodland;
- double the area of native woodland by around 2050, by restocking around 3,000ha of felled non-native stock with native species each year, in addition to commitments to new native woodland creation;
- obtain periodic repeat measurements to monitor change to woodlands, including opportunities for the use of citizen science;
- develop a national Native Woodlands Plan or Programme, with ring-fenced resources purely to enhance and protect Scotland's native woods.
"Native woods are home to much of Scotland's endangered biodiversity such as red squirrels and Scottish wildcats, and are priceless in terms of the role they play in Scotland's world-famous historic landscapes," Dundas said.
The trust now has an online form via which the public can pass on their concerns to MSPs.