Risk/opportunity:(from the Climate Change Risk Assessment for Scotland 2012):
Cross Cutting

Narratives: Pests, diseases and invasive species (forestry), Suitability and productivity (forestry)

SCCAP theme: Natural environment

SCCAP objectives:
N3: Sustain and enhance the benefits, goods and services that the natural environment provides

Latest figures

Year

Area of woodland with active approved deer management plans

Percent of total woodland area with approved deer management plans

2013

779,000 ha

55%

Trend
At a glance
  • Excessive deer browsing is a key pressure impacting woodlands, that needs to be managed to achieve resilient, climate ready woodland
  • This indicator measures the area of woodland in Scotland specifically managed to reduce deer impacts
  • This indicator is also used in the Scottish Forestry Strategy

Deer management is vital for effective woodland management and to secure biodiversity objectives (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2006). Deer are valued by stakeholders and the general public and provide economic benefit through stalking, wider tourism and provision of venison, however deer grazing is one of the key pressures affecting natural regeneration and establishment of woodlands, both native and non-native (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a).

A certain amount of grazing and browsing by herbivores such as deer is important in sustainably managing woodland and maintaining biodiversity. However, when deer numbers are too high, as is currently the case in parts of Scotland, woodland is damaged by heavy browsing, bark stripping and trampling/poaching (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a). Excessive browsing prevents woodland regeneration by damage to vulnerable young trees. This is described as ‘currently the most widespread threat to the condition of designated woodland features’ (Scottish Natural Heritage, 2010, cited in Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a).

If woodlands are to be resilient to climate change there is a need to reduce other pressures that have a negative impact.  It is therefore important to reduce the stress induced by deer grazing in woodlands.

This indicator is used in the Scottish Forestry Strategy (SFS) and ‘measures areas of woodland, including any associated open areas, where specific deer management plans are in place. These plans require a strong focus on achieving reductions in deer impacts on biodiversity and tree growth’ (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2011).

Deer management is vital for effective woodland management and to secure biodiversity objectives (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2006). Deer are valued by stakeholders and the general public and provide economic benefit through stalking, wider tourism and provision of venison, however deer grazing is one of the key pressures affecting natural regeneration and establishment of woodlands, both native and non-native (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a).

A certain amount of grazing and browsing by herbivores such as deer is important in sustainably managing woodland and maintaining biodiversity. However, when deer numbers are too high, as is currently the case in parts of Scotland, woodland is damaged by heavy browsing, bark stripping and trampling/poaching (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a). Excessive browsing prevents woodland regeneration by damage to vulnerable young trees. This is described as ‘currently the most widespread threat to the condition of designated woodland features’ (Scottish Natural Heritage, 2010, cited in Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a).

If woodlands are to be resilient to climate change there is a need to reduce other pressures that have a negative impact.  It is therefore important to reduce the stress induced by deer grazing in woodlands.

This indicator is used in the Scottish Forestry Strategy (SFS) and ‘measures areas of woodland, including any associated open areas, where specific deer management plans are in place. These plans require a strong focus on achieving reductions in deer impacts on biodiversity and tree growth’ (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2011).

Deer management is vital for effective woodland management and to secure biodiversity objectives (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2006). Deer are valued by stakeholders and the general public and provide economic benefit through stalking, wider tourism and provision of venison, however deer grazing is one of the key pressures affecting natural regeneration and establishment of woodlands, both native and non-native (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a).

A certain amount of grazing and browsing by herbivores such as deer is important in sustainably managing woodland and maintaining biodiversity. However, when deer numbers are too high, as is currently the case in parts of Scotland, woodland is damaged by heavy browsing, bark stripping and trampling/poaching (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a). Excessive browsing prevents woodland regeneration by damage to vulnerable young trees. This is described as ‘currently the most widespread threat to the condition of designated woodland features’ (Scottish Natural Heritage, 2010, cited in Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014a).

If woodlands are to be resilient to climate change there is a need to reduce other pressures that have a negative impact.  It is therefore important to reduce the stress induced by deer grazing in woodlands.

This indicator is used in the Scottish Forestry Strategy (SFS) and ‘measures areas of woodland, including any associated open areas, where specific deer management plans are in place. These plans require a strong focus on achieving reductions in deer impacts on biodiversity and tree growth’ (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2011).

It is thought that, due to the extended growing season, climate change may increase the reproductive capacity of deer leading to increased browsing damage. It might also enable Fallow and Sika deer to expand their range and Muntjac deer, currently present in England, to move into Scotland (Scottish Government, 2011a and 2011b).

The SFS Implementation Plan 2014-17 identifies the need for its partners (FCS, SNH, Wild Deer National Approach steering group, Lowland Deer Network Scotland) to  ‘promote a landscape-scale approach to deer management, and identify strategic priorities to reduce impacts on woodland’ (FCS, 2014b, p.39)

Deer management will continue to be part of integrated ecosystem-based land management activity aimed at sustaining and enhancing ecosystem services. This covers both woodland and open ground and enables accounting for pressures such as climate change on delivery of ecosystem services. FCS commit to manage deer ‘at densities which will allow the sustainable management of a diverse, productive and resilient National Forest Estate which produces quality timber, vibrant ecosystems, attractive landscapes and quality venison’ (FCS, 2014c, p. 44). The Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) Deer Management Strategy 2017-20 is under development, informed by experience to date and feedback from a consultation held in 2013. The strategy will identify management options and measures for sustainable deer management, using a combination of deer culling and deer fencing (FCS, 2014c).

Scotland’s deer population is made up of two native species, Red and Roe, and two introduced species, Sika and Fallow. Fallow deer have long been part of Scotland’s landscape. They do not colonise new areas rapidly and are therefore being managed to contain existing populations. However, Sika deer have spread rapidly to colonise new areas and they also hybridise with Red deer. Management is focussed on limiting both population increase and range spread of the Sika, and maintaining the genetic integrity of the native Red deer (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2014c).

Although there was an increase in the area of woodland (and percentage of total woodland) with active, approved deer management plans between 2007 and 2013, this varied throughout the period, with a decrease from 2010 through to 2012, so the underlying trend is not clear.

Forestry Commission (2015) Forestry Statistics. Available at:

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-7aqdgc (Accessed February 2015)

Forestry Commission Scotland (2006) The Scottish Forestry Strategy. http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/supporting/strategy-policy-guidance/forestry-strategy (Accessed January 2015)

Forestry Commission Scotland (2011) The Scottish Forestry Strategy: Description of Indicators. http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/images/corporate/pdf/sfsindicators.pdf (Accessed January 2015)

Forestry Commission Scotland (2014a) Scotland’s Native Woodlands: Results From the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/supporting/strategy-policy-guidance/native-woodland-survey-of-scotland-nwss/national-nwss-report (Accessed January 2015)

Forestry Commission Scotland (2014b) The Scottish Forestry Strategy: Implementation Plan (2014-17) and Progress Report (2013-14). http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/supporting/strategy-policy-guidance/forestry-strategy (Accessed January 2015)

Forestry Commission Scotland (2014c) Deer management on the National Forest Estate: Current Practice and Future Directions 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2017. http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/images/corporate/pdf/deer-management-on-scotlands-national-forest-estate.pdf (Accessed January 2015)

Scottish Government (2011a) Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Framework: Agriculture Sector Action Plan http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/climatechange/scotlands-action/adaptation/AdaptationFramework/SAP/Agriculture/Impacts (Accessed January 2015)

Scottish Government (2011b) Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Framework: Forests and Forestry Sector Action Plan http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/climatechange/scotlands- action/adaptation/AdaptationFramework/SAP/Forests  (Accessed January 2015)

Scottish Government (2008) Scotland’s Wild Deer: a national approach. Scottish Government, Edinburgh. http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/C249895.pdf

Scottish Natural Heritage (2011) Code of Practice on Deer Management. SNH, Inverness.    http://www.snh.gov.uk/land-and-sea/managing-wildlife/managing-deer/code-of-deer-management/

Forestry Commission Scotland

Suzanne Martin (RBGE) contributed to this indicator.