Species survey boosts Scottish reforestation plans

Posted: 16 February 2010

Biodiversity surveys carried out at the on Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston, Inverness-shire have identified 56 priority species for conservation - including some feared extinct in Scotland.

Lichen running-spider
Lichen running-spider
Lichen running-spider (Philodromus margaritatus) on a ragwort flower on Trees for Life's Dundreggan Estate.
Species identified at the 10,000 acre site to the west of Loch Ness include black grouse, water vole, pine marten, lesser butterfly orchid, six species of tooth fungi, the lichen running crab spider and the small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly. All are included in the UK's Biodiversity Action Plan as priority species for conservation. Alan Watson Featherstone, Executive Director Trees for Life which owns the estate, said: "The discoveries being made at Dundreggan are confirming the estate's importance as a habitat rich in biodiversity and as a perfect site for forest restoration. "Projects like this, to restore habitats for rare species, are vital. Even though biodiversity is crucial for our well-being, humans are destroying it at an ever-increasing rate. The International Year of Biodiversity is a major opportunity to take positive action."

Wild boar Key biodiversity discoveries made at Dundreggan include:

  • A rare mining bee (Andrena marginata), presumed to have been extinct in Scotland since 1949 (a solitary individual was recorded in Strathspey in 2002), was found in 2007.

  • A rare horsefly - the golden horsefly (Atylotus fulvus) - was found in 2008. This species had only been seen once in Scotland since 1923.
  • A healthy population of the Biodiversity Action Plan-listed spider, Philodromus margaritatus, was discovered in the estate's ancient birchwood in September 2009.

  • The presence of water voles (Arvicola terrestris) was confirmed in September 2009.
mining bee
mining bee
The rare mining bee (Andrena marginata) found on Dundreggan, feeding here on devilsbit scabious.
Dundreggan also has some of the best stands of juniper (another priority species for conservation) in the Highlands and possibly the most extensive distribution of dwarf birch in the country. Trees for Life's £1.65 million purchase of the estate in 2008 saw the site become one of the largest areas of land in the UK bought for forest restoration. Plans include the planting of half a million trees, support for the return of rare woodland wildlife, plants and insects, and also scientific research and education programmes. Dundreggan is also home to an innovative project in which wild boar are reducing bracken in an area of ancient birchwood, facilitating the regeneration of native trees and flowering plants. The boar, donated by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig last November, are in a special woodland enclosure.

800,000 trees Much of the restoration work at Dundreggan is being carried out by volunteers. Trees for Life is encouraging individuals and companies to join its Conservation Volunteer Weeks, selected as one of the Top 10 Conservation Holidays worldwide by BBC Wildlife Magazine last year. People can also support Trees for Life's award-winning restoration of the Caledonian Forest - of which only 1 per cent survives - through specially-dedicated trees and Groves. It aims to replant in an area of 1,500 square kilometres in the Scottish Highlands west of Inverness.

Since planting its first trees in 1991 in Glen Affric, the organisation has planted over 800,000 trees. Its awards include 1991 UK Conservation Project of the Year, the Millennium Marque in 2000 and Top 10 Conservation Holidays worldwide in 2009.

For more details, see www.treesforlife.org.uk. For information on International Year of Biodiversity events and activities across the UK see www.biodiversityislife.net

Related link:

2010: International Year of Biodiversity