This paper appraises the role of prehistoric human societies in modifying the natural woodland biodiversity of several regions throughout Scotland. It draws attention to the likelihood that, contrary to popular belief, biodiversity was enhanced by interactions between agricultural communities and woodlands. The possible purposefulness of such interactions is discussed.
Mindful of the present concern to re-establish ‘native’ woodlands in many parts of northern Britain, we then review three approaches to the identification of native tree types in Scotland, and conclude that insufficient attention in reafforestation schemes is being paid to (a) the palaeoecological record as a record of native woodland or (b) the likely former high taxonomic diversity of woodlands. Both these failings will lead to the creation of new woodlands lacking in species diversity.