Pine marten experts gather in the Scottish Highlands
The spectacular recovery of pine martens in Scotland is on the agenda for a gathering of pine marten experts in the Cairngorms.
Researchers from around the world will be attending the International Martes Symposium in Aviemore, and visiting local success stories in the Cairngorms.
The symposium happens every five years in a different country that is home to martens and their relatives, including wolverines. Pine martens are a protected species in Scotland, with an estimated population of just 3700. The small predator helps maintain a healthy forest ecosystem.
Wildlife conservation managers and researchers from Scotland, the UK, the USA, Canada and Europe will be sharing the latest science and conservation actions taking place to promote pine martens and their cousins.
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is a co-sponsor and host of the event, the theme of which is how to conserve martens in a changing climate.
Kenny Kortland, wildlife ecologist for FLS, said: “It’s like a COP26 for pine martens.
“Pine martens are making a spectacular recovery in Scotland, which makes us particularly interesting for this group of international researchers. Some of them are witnessing declines in their parts of the world.
“The forestry sector has helped pine martens greatly by increasing Scotland’s forest cover - conifer plantations make excellent habitats for pine martens.
“We’ve also been supporting research that is investigating how pine martens affect other species.
“By hosting the symposium we can share Scotland’s successes in protecting and promoting pine martens, and learn from our colleagues from Italy, Canada, the USA and elsewhere.
“We’ll all be focused on how a changing climate could impact pine martens, whether they are in the Cairngorms or California.”
Rich Weir, the Canada-based chair of the Martes Working Group, said: “This conference is an exceptional forum for wildlife researchers and conservationists who strive to better understand and conserve the martens of the world to learn from and build on each other’s work.
“A perfect case of this is Scotland’s efforts to re-establish pine martens in the nearby Caledonian woodlands.
“It’s a brilliant example of successful species recovery that others at the conference can learn from and hopefully apply in their home countries”.
The delegates will visit the Cairngorms Connect project, a partnership between Forestry and Land Scotland and other neighbouring landowners, which is working on a 200-year plan to enhance habitats, species and ecological processes across a vast area within the Cairngorms National Park. Its Predator Project is monitoring the return of pine martens to the area, as well as other predator species like raptors and badgers.
The delegates will also meet with a range of land managers in Strathspey, to get their views on the return of pine martens to Scotland’s countryside.
The Eighth International Martes Symposium will take place in Aviemore, 12-15 September. It is organised by the Martes Working Group, which was founded to facilitate communication among scientists with a common interest in martes research, conservation and management.
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.