Trees for Life has launched a new initiative to revitalise mountaintop forests in the Scottish Highlands, providing space for wildlife such the golden eagle, ring ouzel and mountain hare to flourish.
The conservation charity is establishing a 700-acre mountaintop woodland of 100,000 trees at its Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston near Loch Ness. The site, Carn na Caorach, lies at 450-600 metres above sea level on Dundreggan’s northeastern edge, with sweeping views over Glenmoriston and Glen Affric. It is thought to have been an important place for grazing livestock for hundreds of years.
However, centuries of overgrazing by sheep and deer have left most of Scotland stripped of the once-common, tough, waist-high trees such as dwarf birch and downy willow – known as “montane” species because they can grow near mountain summits, despite harsh conditions.
Volunteers will begin the first phase of planting this spring – with trees including downy willow and dwarf birch on the higher ground, and Scots pine and juniper on the lower slopes. Further planting will continue over the next few years, and self-seeded saplings will also be able to thrive in the grazing-free exclosure.
The initiative will also see the return of plants including wood cranesbill, globeflower and alpine sowthistle, in turn supporting mammals, birds, and pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies.
It will benefit people too, with the new forest helping to tackle climate change by locking away carbon dioxide, and reduce flooding by improving the soil’s capacity to retain water.
Because such high woodlands take longer to establish than those in sheltered locations, the project is long-term. It will take 50 to 100 years before the forest is fully established, if grazing levels are kept low.
The ambitious project will create what is expected to be Scotland’s largest planted area of rare high-altitude woodland.
Image Source: Trees for Life Facebook page
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com