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This project aims to provide knowledge on protected species of relevance to British forestry, to support management decisions and policy decisions aimed at meeting Government commitments for conserving biodiversity.

Research objectives

  • Develop knowledge to support the conservation of protected species through:
    • Species specific research
    • Guild, habitat and ecosystem based research
  • Provide technical advice and guidance on protected species

Results so far

Over the last ten years, a number of projects have been initiated so we could learn more about how to conserve protected species, and guidance has been prepared to disseminate this knowledge.

There are three different types of knowledge needed:

  • for some species we knew very little about where they occurred in woodlands and how abundant or healthy the populations were, for these we carried out surveys;
  • for many species we didn’t know how they might be affected by habitat management, for these species we applied management at the sites they occurred and monitored their response, or changes in elements of the habitat they relied on;
  • for other species, some knowledge was already available on conservation management but we felt this needed to be tested to make it more robust.

These are the species and studies, listed by the main question we tried to answer:

1. What is the distribution and status of the protected species?

  • The scarce lime bark beetle (Ernoporus tiliae) through an extensive survey of small-leaved lime woods in England and Wales (Forestry Commission/Forest Research)
  • Juniper (Juniperus communis) in Scotland (Scottish Natural Heritage/Forest Research)
  • Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) clones in Scotland using microsatellite markers (Cairngorms National Park Authority/ Plantlife Scotland/ Forest Research)

2. How does the protected species respond to habitat management?

  • Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) to thinning operation in Scots pine stands (Plantlife Scotland/Forest Research)
  • Hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)to the removal of conifers from planted ancient woodland sites (PAWS) (Forestry Commission England/ Forest Research)
  • Fluctuation cone crops in main forest species and the influence on seed eating species e.g. Scottish crossbill (Loxia scotica) (RSPB/Forest Research)
  • Assemblages of macro moth species to coppice management (Butterfly Conservation/Forest Research)
  • Woodland birds to woodland management and deer browsing (BTO/RSPB/University of Nottingham/Forest Research)

3. Is conservation management recommended for this protected species is effective?

  • Improving capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) brood habitat by thinning Scots pine plantations (EU Life Nature)
  • Regeneration of juniper (Juniperus communis) by grazing or scarifying upland juniper woodland sites (Plantlife Scotland/Forest Research)
  • Landscape scale management for black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) in the wooded uplands of Scotland (Forestry Commission Scotland/Scottish Natural Heritage/RSPB/ Forest Research)
  • Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) and pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) larval habitat changes with wood pasture management (Forestry Commission Scotland/Butterfly Conservation/Forest Research)


The protected species research programme began in 1998 and is ongoing.


Alice Broome

Funders and partners

The Protect Species Research project is mainly funded by the Forestry Commission under their Ecosystems and Biodiversity programme.

However, most of the projects have been collaborative, with funding supplied by e.g. Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, Joint Nature Conservation Council, Defra, Cairngorms National Park Authority, EU, and with research delivered in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology, RSPB, Plantlife Scotland, Butterfly Conservation, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Local Councils and The James Hutton Institute.

Forestry Commission policy

The restoration of natural and semi-natural habitats, and their associated species, is a major policy objective across the world stimulated by the Convention on Biological Diversity. The desirability of protecting species is strongly advocated in EU and British environmental policies, and through EU and British legislation including the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act and Nature conservation Scotland Act, and the EU Habitats Directive. Expectations for the conservation of woodland protected species is articulated through the Forestry Standard, the underpinning Forest and Biodiversity Guidelines, and associated country woodland strategies.

Related pages

Useful sites

Alice Broome

Senior Scientist - Priority species/ habitats