Foresters' building skills await pine marten approval
Native woodland restoration work near Dunkeld has created a win-win for trees and for some local pine martens – who have the chance to move in to a ready-made den.
Working with contractors to restore Ladywell Wood – an Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland - Forestry and Land Scotland’s Perthshire team has been removing some Sitka spruce that were crowding out some native broadleaves.
But with no opportunity to take the felled spruce off site, the team came up with an innovative use for the timber.
Gareth Ventress, FLS Environment Forester, said;
“Ladywell Wood has some fantastically formed birch trees within it that will make an ideal seed stand, providing seeds that over time will produce millions of native birch trees for growing-on and planting out in the future.
“Unfortunately, they had been hemmed in by some spruce trees so we went in to do some ‘halo thinning’ to clear some of those surrounding trees out. This opens up the canopy to create a ‘halo’ of open sky that the birch trees can grow into and thrive, ensuring that we will be able to get lots of seeds in years to come.
“It was a small scale operation so we didn’t really have any opportunity to take the spruce off site so we chopped up the felled timber and built a novel pine marten hotel off the forest floor away from predators and out of the weather.
“Hopefully, our architecture skills will meet with approval!”
The cut logs where stacked in such a way that they created a cavity within the stack. Covered over with brash it makes a perfect den for some local wildlife will gradually rot down as valuable deadwood habitat for a multitude of woodland species for decades to come.
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Additional: Since a historic low point at the beginning of the 20th Century, pine marten population levels have grown - and their range has expanded – thanks to the growth of plantation forestry resulting from the formation of the Forestry Commission in 1919.
Traditionally denning in tree cavities high off the ground, pine marten have adapted well to plantation environments, where the trees are often too young (often less than 100 years old) to have formed cavities. Den sites have been recorded in rock cavities, buildings, abandoned vehicles, under dense patches of gorse, patches of tangled windblown trees, old log stacks, old buzzard nests and even active osprey nests.
FLS has also used artificial den boxes for pine marten conservation - with a lot of success – providing safe, warm den sites high up in the trees away from predators.
Notes to editors
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people and nature; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.