Project LP.A2 (2014 - 2018)

Pinewood Restoration

This project is focussed on Forestry Commission landholding in Glen Nevis. It is primarily aimed at improving both landscape and habitat quality through the creation of native pinewood. While there has been relatively little native pinewood in the glen, it is an important feature of the highland landscape and will also be of benefit to the iconic and endangered red squirrel which has an established foothold in the glen.

This plan will seek to significantly improve the landscape and habitat quality of the glen by addressing the most challenging sites. This will include removal of some inaccessible areas of Sitka spruce plantation supplemented by extensive upper forest margin modification and integration with the open hill. Resultant natural regeneration of site native species such as birch will be enriched with Scots pine and other site native broadleaves. These activities will form part of a longer-term management commitment to enhance the landscape quality of the Glen Nevis Forest.

The Forestry Commission landholding around Glen Nevis comprises 2521 hectares of woodland and open hill to the south of Fort William. The current extent of the landholding has been created over a period of time. The earliest acquisition began 1924 followed by a series of acquisitions and disposals over subsequent decades. The latest of these has been the purchase of 1500 Ha of Blar a Chaorrainn to the south in 2013. The area is situated to the south and east of Fort William and faces the principal approach to Ben Nevis. The area comprises around 1000 Ha of commercial forest and 1500 of open hill and mountain. Within this are remnants of native woodland and native Scots pine. The area is entirely within the Ben Nevis and Glencoe National Scenic Area and within a kilometre of Ben Nevis SSSI/ SAC.

While the area includes less ancient semi-natural woodland relative to other forests in Lochaber, fairly extensive native pinewoods and birch woods support rare species such as black grouse and red squirrel. Black grouse are found in the open habitats above the forest in addition to the woodland itself where open glades and rides are particularly important. Red squirrel use stands of mature conifers through the forest (particularly Scots pine) and the patches of hazel woodland on the slopes of Cow Hill. These slopes are also important for the rare chequered skipper and pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies which breed in the sunny glades, kept open by careful grazing management with Forestry Commission cattle.

The overarching theme of the project will be to restore pinewood habitat and associated species within the national forest estate in Glen Nevis in addition to providing opportunities for public involvement with wildlife conservation.

Pinewood Restoration is generously funded by Heritage Lottery Fund & Forestry Commission Scotland.

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