Protected species: forestry and woodlands

This is supplementary guidance for woodland owners and managers. It provides best practice advice for meeting the requirements of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the information on our main page on protected species licensing.

Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017

The habitats regulations (The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017) give legal protection to protected species wherever they are found in Wales. Many of the species covered by these regulations are found in woodlands. As a result, there are certain implications for the management of those woodlands and the forestry operations carried out in them.

Biodiversity and sustainable management

Natural Resources Wales is committed to embedding the habitats regulations in the forestry sector's operations, in order to develop the biodiversity and sustainable management of Wales’s woodlands. We work with partners to ensure that the regulations are integrated into best practice guidance for sustainable forestry, rather than an additional regulatory measure.

Safeguarding European protected species in woodlands

The habitats regulations require changes to the management of woodlands and forestry operations in areas where European protected species (EPS) are found.

European Protected Species found in Wales’s woodlands include:

  • All 17 species of bat
  • Dormice
  • Great crested newts
  • Otters

The Natterjack toad and protected plant species (Fen Orchid, Floating Water-plantain, Killarney Fern and Shore Dock) may also be found in woodlands or be affected by forest operations.

Complying with the habitats regulations

A series of tools is available below. These provide advice on how best to manage woodland where EPS are present. This guidance complies with sustainable forestry management practices and the habitats regulations. Please note that the guidance may be updated from time to time.

Habitats regulations tools

The following documents explain the regulations and include a decision-making tree which shows the factors you should consider when deciding whether or not you need to apply for a licence.

Guidance by species

The following guidance documents (updated in 2010) explain how to find out if EPS are present in your woodland and what to do if they are:

Apply for a forestry or woodland management licence

Apply for a licence to deliberately kill, injure, capture (take), deliberately disturb, damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place or transport a European Protected Species in relation to forestry or woodland management.

Apply for a European Protected Species licence

You may need a licence to carry out certain activities. Find out how to apply for a protected species licence.

Dormouse licence

The Dormouse Method Statement Template accompanies the EPS licence application. It is designed to help woodland owners and managers provide the information required as part of the licence application and provides guidance on reasonable techniques for minimising disturbance to dormice.

Contact us

If you have any queries about European protected species legislation and its application with regard to forestry or woodland operations, please use the following contact information:

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