Can you see the wood… without the trees?

Torwood has lost many of its trees, but the habitat remains

On Thursday, Christina in our woods Under Threat Team in Scotland will be going on an official site visit to a woodland in the village of Torwood, in Falkirk.

The wood has been the site of several unsuccessful planning applications to Falkirk Council over the years, and this visit is the culmination of the developer’s most recent (failed) attempt to get planning permission for a housing development, which is now being appealed. 

Christina says:

” The Trust is particularly worried about the site of the proposed development.  This case exposes the vulnerability of woodland sites, where one illegal act (which carries a small fine) can easily expose them to permanent loss.

“The proposed site was felled illegally by a previous owner who paid his fines, did not replant the trees as ordered by the Forestry Commission and then sold the land. With the trees gone, the current owner does not appear to think the site has any ecological value – and, as he didn’t fell them, he does not have to replant the trees.

“There are certainly less old trees on the site now, but there is lots of regeneration happening and the ground flora are little disturbed – this is still ancient woodland as far as we are concerned, an important and irreplaceable habitat. We hope that the government Reporter who has to decide the fate of the site will agree with us and that the area should be allowed to recover naturally and not be destroyed for a housing estate.”

As the village name suggests, there has been woodland in the Torwood area for hundreds of years. Fragments of woodland still exist around the village, the castle and the historic broch  – a scheduled ancient monument.  In later years the woods were probably used to fuel the local ironworks and currently there is some commercial conifer growth around the village. Overall there has been a long history of woodland in the area and many locals are keen to keep it that way, with the local campaign group – Torwood Community Woodland Group – playing an instrumental part in the long fight for these woods. 

If you live in the area and would like to support the local campaign group, details can be found on their website, or contact us and we can pass details on.

We are hopeful of a positive outcome for Torwood, and will let you know the result as soon as we can.  Please tell us what you think about this case – share your comments with us!


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About Kaye Brennan

Senior Campaigner (Policy & Advocacy) for the Woodland Trust and Administrator, 'Woodland Matters' blog
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