Woodlands in and around Towns
Woodlands close to our towns and villages are important to the communities surrounding them. Woodlands are important to surrounding landscape, they provide valuable habitats for wildlife and they offer an opportunity to reconnect with nature and take part in informal recreation.
The Scottish Forestry Strategy sets priorities for action to provide woodland recreation opportunities near towns and to contribute to the radical improvement in the quality and setting of urban areas. This aim is also set out in the Forest and Woodlands Strategy for Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. Aberdeenshire Council is currently working in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland to fulfil these aims, identifying opportunities for improving management to enhance woodlands close to settlements.
In recent years work has been ongoing in Ellon, Huntly, Portlethen and Kintore with improvements undertaken in existing woodlands (improved paths, new signage, non-native tree removal, erection of bird and bat boxes, tree thinning in line with good woodland management) and the creation of new woodlands.
Gauchhill Woodland in Kintore
Gauchhill community wildlife site is an 8.4 ha woodland to the south west of Kintore, adjacent to the A96. Although the wood does not have any statutory designations it is protected in the local plan and the adjacent land to the east is reserved for a town park. There is a footpath around the woodland which is very popular with local dog walkers, school and community groups are also increasingly using the site.
Gauchhill is predominantly a pine woodland, with larger even-aged trees probably around 60-70 years old interspersed with younger pole-stage trees. There are birch and rowan trees scattered through the wood, becoming dominant in the east of the site. Natural regeneration is widespread throughout the woodland and includes plenty of rowan and birch and some holly. The woodland provides a valuable habitat and food source (seeds from pine cones) for red squirrels which can often be seen in the wood.