The value of Ancient Woodlands
Ancient woodlands are integral to Scotland’s history, culture and ecology. Their rich biodiversity and complex soil structure help support ecosystem connectivity and are important to fighting the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. However, they have suffered from overgrazing, deforestation and a changing climate, and together, these factors have led to their increasing decline.
Edward Asseily, CEO of Zulu Ecosystems, comments, “This window to our past helps to identify and prioritise areas with the highest potential for natural regeneration and shows where interventions are urgently needed to restore these once-thriving ecosystems. It also opens up new avenues for landowners to participate in woodland regeneration: Lost Woods are now eligible for carbon credits under the Woodland Carbon Code (WCC), another incentive for landowners and other stakeholders to regenerate nature at scale.”
How we created the OS First Series Woodland Layer
For this project, we extracted details of the woodland recorded in the NLS’s OS 6-inch 1st Edition Scotland maps (1843-1882), using the historic symbology used to classify deciduous woods, fir plantations and mixed woods.
We then refined this data through a combination of machine learning (ML), post-processing techniques and manual verification to ensure accuracy across a large scale. When compared to present-day satellite imagery, it clearly shows the areas where ancient woodlands once stood.
We have developed and donated this open access layer to contribute towards the conservation and protection of ancient woodland in Scotland.
Chris Fleet from the National Library of Scotland commented “We are very keen to share information from our map collections, and this collaboration has created an important new dataset showing woodland on Ordnance Survey 1st edition six-inch maps. We hope that the refinement and improvement of this woodland layer before its release as an open dataset will assist the wide range of people today who are interested in Scotland’s historic woodland.”
Zulu Ecosystems: Using technology to accelerate their revival
At Zulu Ecosystems, we’re committed to take action to resolve the plight of Lost Woods. Combining the latest science, econometric models and land data, with in-house land management and Lost Woods expertise, we support landowners to evaluate, finance and deliver Lost Woods regeneration projects at the landscape or estate level.
Zulu Ecosystems' approach to regenerating Lost Woods is low-input and a low-risk way of achieving maximum gains for climate and nature. Key benefits include:
- Reduced implementation costs: the trees are already established and will thrive once grazing pressure is reduced
- Projects can be validated as soon as fencing is complete, so carbon revenues can be recognised earlier than with woodland creation schemes.
- Strong natural capital outcomes and premium biodiversity benefits - that are even more attractive to corporate investors.
For more information on how to regenerate Lost Woods as a landowner or a volunteer, please contact email@example.com.
To explore and collaborate in the OS First Series Woodland Layer, locate ancient woodland in Scotland and compare it to today’s coverage, find out more here.