Ancient Woodlands have declined over the millennia to such an extent that they now cover less than 1% of the land surface in Scotland. They include some of the most bio-diverse environments in the country and provide habitat for many living organisms, including lichen, vertebrates, invertebrates and plant life. They form a hugely valuable natural resource that should be protected and managed.

Because of the way the forest has been managed over the centuries the land is broken up into dozens of small clumps of different types of trees. This gives it a distinctive character and also its biodiversity. There are at least 19 different species of trees on the land, and a large variety of plants below the canopy, which provide a rich habitat for vertebrates and invertebrates, thus extending its biodiversity.

The biodiversity stretches to the loch: an unusually high number of fish species live in Loch Lomond, compared with other lochs.

The Loch Lomond surroundings have an exceptionally diverse and extensive area of Atlantic oak woods, rich in mosses and lichens.

The diverse lichen communities in Western Scotland are unparalleled anywhere in Europe andĀ  are of huge international importance. They areĀ  important biomarkers of pollution and a sensitive measure of climate change. They also connect us with our past – they were previously used as dyes and medicine – and their diverse properties may lead to new antibiotics.

Many west coast lichen are in the Red Data Book of Lichens in Britain.

Trees in Balmaha

Birds in Balmaha woodland

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