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Duchess Wood: Natural History 

Duchess Wood is made up of 3 types of woodland community:
  • Atlantic oakwood
  • Upland mixed ashwood
  • Wet woodland
These woodland communities are important for supporting a large variety of animal and plant species
and are protected under the European Union Habitat Directive.  There are many native species in Duchess
Wood, but also non-native species.


What is a Scottish native species?
Native species to Scotland, and Duchess Wood, include species that have been in Scotland since after the last ice age, more than
10,000 years ago! 
Examples of native and non-native species are shown below.


Native Trees
Non-Native Trees 
Scots Pine 
Oak                         Ash
Beech                      Sycamore Tree Canopy


Native Plants
Non-Native Plants
Wild hyacinth (bluebell)
Wood anemone
Full checklists of plants can be found in the wildlife section.                                
Wild Hyacinth
Japanese knotweed


Roe Deer
Grey Squirrel
Tree creeper 
Mistle thrush
Willow Warblers
Increasing the Biodiversity of Duchess Wood
An aim for the management of Duchess Wood is to return the wood to a more native mix of trees by reducing the number of non-native tree and plant species, including sycamore, beech, rhododendron and japanese knotweed, and increase the number of native tree and plant species, such as oak and ash.
Increasing the number of native, Scottish tree and plant species should encourage the growth of existing animal, bird, insect and fungi populations and attract new species to the area.  This will increase the biodiversity of Duchess Wood.
For example, oak trees provide habitats for more organisms, especially insects than any other type of tree.


What is so bad about non-native trees and plants in Duchess Wood?
Non-native species:
  • Often compete with native species for a niche.
  • Spread fast and can be aggressive.
  • Reduces the native species that it directly competes with and the number of flora and fauna that the native species supports. 
Sycamore trees have a thick canopy that lets very little light to the ground below (see photo).  This reduces the biodiversity of plants and animals around sycamore trees. These trees also spread fast.
Rhodadendron is a fast growing, dense shrub that spreads quickly and covers the ground with a dark shade.  This stops any natural regeneration and acidifies the soil as its leaves break down.
Japanese Knotweed spreads quickly forming a dense growth of shrubs that exclude native species and are of little value for wildlife.  
These photographs show that light penetrates poorly through the canopy of sycamore trees and that very little grows around these trees.
Friends of Duchess Wood
(Charity Number SC039527)
Last updated: 09 March 2015