The research being carried out under the Large Grants programme relates to biodiversity or forest ecology and carbon at the fourteen forest sites created by the Scottish Forest Alliance (SFA).

The practise of sustainable forestry aims to achieve better integration between woodlands and other valued habitats, as a means of enhancing biodiversity at the landscape scale.

Habitat networks allow species to move and disperse through the landscape across key woodland and open habitat types.

The long-term monitoring of forest ecosystems at these 14 sites across Scotland is informing the body of scientific knowledge of how and why species colonise particular areas.

Ecologists have developed a methodology for monitoring species on the sites in order to assess changes in biodiversity as the new woods develop, to inform management planning and to allow the assessment of change in biodiversity. This monitoring occurs every ten years for a 200 year period. It involves measuring the evidence of activity of particular insect species, on a known unit of woodland habitat. It has been called the 'smoking gun' approach because it relies on evidence these creatures leave behind that make it possible to calculate an index of diversity for that habitat unit. By sampling a range of woods with different known dates of origin, the diversity index over time will reflect how the woodland has grown and developed, and whether it is healthy and functioning properly. The methodology works on the hypothesis that the amount and diversity of insect life will change in a woodland area as it matures.

The monitoring and recording work Sustainable Forestry SCIO is supporting will increase our understanding of how native woodland ecosystems develop, which can inform future woodland conservation policy and practise.

Sustainable Forestry SCIO is a registered Scottish Charity No SC043508