There is a range of woodland types in Ayrshire, from native broadleaved mixed woodlands, to more newly established conifer plantations. Historically Ayrshire was dominated by broadleaves woodland, however now, due to human activities, less than 1% of the land area in Ayrshire supports native or semi native woodland.
Ayrshire has a range of woodlands, oaks and birch dominated woodlands such as those found in the Ayr River Gorge SSSI and Sourlie wood. These tree species are found on well drained acidic soils, with Hazel Corylus avellana, Holly Ilex aquifolium and Rowan Sorbus aucuparia forming a significant portion of the under story species. Mixed ash woodlands can be found in Cessnock Water Woods and Dundonald Wood SSSI, where Wych Elm Ulmus glabra and Ash Fraxinus excelsior dominate in areas of base rich soils.
Wet woodlands such as those found at Whitehill High Woods form in area which areas which are seasonally flooded, or which have poor drainage. Here can be found Willow Salix Spp, Alder Alnus glutinosa and Downy birch Betula pubescens.
Scrub woodlands in Ayrshire can be found at Maidens-Doonfoot SSSI, but also along remnant railway lines within the Ayr, Doon and Irvine river valleys. They are generally composed of less mature Elder Sambucus nigra, Gorse Ulex europaeus, Blackthorn Prunus spinosa and Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna scattered within open grassland areas. These forests may be in early stages of succession of a more mature woodland, or, are prevented from maturing due to grazing pressure.
Abandoned coal mines in Ayrshire are becoming colonised by Birch Betula spp. and other early successional stage trees, meaning good news for our nature woodland.
Another significant portion of woodland in Ayrshire are broadleaved plantation forests, often found associated with estates and historic human management, for example the forests found in the estates at Auchincruive, Kilkerran and Craufurland. These forests are generally dominated by native species, which is significant as 97 historic sites have been designated within Ayrshire, with most them containing some woodland.
Planted coniferous woodlands, mostly of Sitka Spruce Picea sitchensis, make up 84% of all the woodland in Ayrshire. The main purpose of most conifer plantations is for timber production, but they also form a habitat of high importance for mammals, birds and fungi and lichens.
SUP is registered in Scotland as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Registered address: The Southern Uplands Partnership, Studio 2, Lindean Mill, Galashiels, TD1 3PE. Company No. SC200827 / Charity No. SCO29475