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Scottish Atlantic oakwoods are a conservation priority. The oakwoods are restricted to the Atlantic coastal fringes of Britain, France, Ireland and Spain and are described in the UK Biodiversity Plan as ‘upland oakwoods. They are often described as Britain’s temperate rainforest and they are a precious resource for the animals and plants that make it their home. Atlantic oakwoods are found in areas that have a damp, humid climate with high rainfall and acidic soils that have not been altered by human activity, such as cultivation.
The Scottish Forestry Strategy (Forestry Commission 2000) outlined a major aspiration to develop forest habitat networks through the restoration and improvement of existing woodland and the expansion of new woodland. It is now recognised that targeted woodland expansion using forest habitat networks, through the establishment of linkages and corridors, will conserve forest biodiversity by reversing the consequences of woodland fragmentation and habitat loss. However, Scotland’s extant oakwood habitat is fragmentary, in a human-modified cultural landscape. Highland Titles are helping in the move towards the regeneration of Scottish native woodlands – including Atlantic oakwoods.
Glencoe Wood, named for the famous Glen Coe, just ten miles to the north, extends between Glen Duror and Glen Salachan, tucked in below the magnificent hills Fraochaidh and Beinn a’ Bheithir. Lairds can explore their land on foot or by bicycle and discover the Wood’s history and natural beauty.
Most of the Keil Estate, of which Glencoe Wood forms a small part, has a long history of woodland cover. The original, “natural” woodland has been degraded over time by grazing, and it has recently been replaced by a plantation of exotic species, generally Larch and Sitka.
We are working with a range of partners, including Tree Appeal, Scottish Woodland Alliance and local schools and communities, to make a real difference to Glencoe Wood and the species this ecosystem supports. We also encourage children, local people and visitors to explore, enjoy and better understand Glencoe Wood by providing better access and interpretation signage. This type of woodland is known to provide a home for over 400 species in the ecosystem, including hundreds of lower plants, such as lichens, fungi, ferns, mosses and liverworts which all do well in the warm and wet climate. Flowering plants include primroses, bluebells and wood anemones. Summer visitors may include songbirds such as redstart, pied flycatcher and wood warbler. Buzzards can be seen from the wood and the great spotted woodpecker finds its food in the dead wood. Red and roe deer, hedgehogs, foxes and badgers may live in or near the wood along with the now somewhat rare red squirrel and secretive pine marten. Our stealth-cam regularly captures pictures of these secretive visitors. Insects such as wood ants are still common and we hope to once again see rare butterflies, such as the chequered skipper in woodland glades.
Although Glencoe Wood has been flanked by large Sitka Spruce conifer plantations, it still retains all its charm. We have made a significant start in conserving Glencoe Wood. Threatening conifers and invasive shrubs like Rhodedendron Ponticum have been identified for eradication and grazing by farm livestock eliminated. This has improved and restored woodland habitat condition, and started natural regeneration of native trees, shrubs and ground flora. Where appropriate, new native broadleaf trees have been planted in protective tubes.
The pure waters of the Salachan Burn flows through the heart of the wood and the keen observer may see the Atlantic Salmon swimming up to the spawning grounds higher up the glen as well as the shy wild brown trout. If you could spend an hour panning, you may still find a few flakes of native Scottish gold. Tradition has it that Appin gold formed part of the original Scottish crown jewels.
The work of creating the Nature Reserve have been dictated by the initial Interpretative plan, written with the support of the Scottish Woodland Alliance in 2007 (view the plan here: Interpretive Plan Final). In 2013 we will create the plan for the next five years with our conservation partners.Add plot to basket