Riverwoods is an exciting, ambitious initiative, launched in 2019 by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, to create a network of thriving riverbank woodlands and healthy river systems across the whole of Scotland.

Creating habitat – and joining the fragments of remaining good habitat – is essential for wildlife in a rapidly changing climate. Improving the habitat alongside Scotland’s rivers, streams and lochs will substantially contribute to building a much-needed Scottish Nature Network, helping to make Scotland’s wildlife and communities more resilient for the future.

About the Riverwoods initiative

The Scottish Wildlife Trust has developed and is leading Riverwoods, and since early 2019 has been working with a range of stakeholders and interested parties to shape the initiative (see below).

Many organisations and landowners are already undertaking river restoration projects, and Riverwoods will provide an opportunity to help join these up across Scotland. We will collectively share knowledge of the science underpinning riparian restoration, support landowners to carry out practical work, identify and address evidence gaps, showcase best practice and explore novel forms of financing to enable riparian restoration to be carried out at scale.

With Scotland’s streams and rivers covering an amazing 125,000km (12.5 times the length of the country’s coastline), improving riparian habitat has the potential to create transformative change delivering significant benefits for wildlife and people.

Why is the initiative important now?

Society is facing big environmental challenges, which call for big responses.

The UN has designated 2021-2030 as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration in recognition of the scale of action required to tackle the biodiversity crisis.

Riverwoods will rise to the challenge by seeking to deliver change at a Scotland-wide scale. Making our habitats and wildlife more connected will help make them more resilient, in turn ensuring they are capable of delivering the essential benefits upon which our wildlife, economy and wellbeing depend.

Species including dippers are dependent on healthy rivers © Tom Marshall

Why are these woodlands special?

Native trees next to rivers, streams and lochs – otherwise known as riparian woodland – perform a range of vital functions. They provide shade which helps regulate the temperature of the water (something that will become even more important due to climate change); they offer vital shelter to wildlife, and the leaves and insects falling into the water below provide a valuable food source.

The riparian zone contains hugely valuable habitats which support many of Scotland’s most iconic species including ospreys, white-tailed eagles, otters and Atlantic salmon.

A myriad of invertebrate, bird and bat species can also be found, creating a truly biodiverse ecosystem.


The key purpose of the Riverwoods initiative is to create a network of riparian woodland and healthy river systems throughout Scotland, which will deliver a range of benefits including flood protection, improved water quality and improvements for salmon fisheries, as well as helping to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

As the initiative develops, we will work towards having:

  • A wide range of partners supported to deliver Riverwoods projects
  • A Blueprint for Scotland-wide delivery, underpinned by strong evidence and open data
  • A Centre of Excellence promoting knowledge exchange from existing leaders
  • A variety of traditional and innovative funding mechanisms available for Riverwoods

A separate Riverwoods website will go live shortly and a link to the site will be added to this page.

Riverwoods current partners

Scottish Wildlife Trust, NatureScot, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Tweed Forum, Confor, James Hutton Institute, University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes, Woodland Trust Scotland, Forestry & Land Scotland, Scottish Water

Other stakeholders involved

National Farmers’ Union Scotland, Forest Carbon, Abundance Investment

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