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no local seed source exists the alternatives are limited. At the more controversial end of rewilding, the reintroduction of missing herbivores and predators can profoundly change the land over time, as the Yellowstone wolves have demonstrated. The reintroduction – official and unofficial – of beaver and wild boar has taken place in various parts of the UK. The same has been attempted with wolf and lynx in some more remote parts of Europe with varying success. Ecological processes tend to be slow. Restoring existing, depleted habitats is faster than pioneering from scratch, but creating a landscape that is really natural still takes time – not to mention vision, scale and resources. The main driver for active rewilding is the appeal of managing land in an ecologically sustainable manner in order to return it to a more natural state. The land involved is often agriculturally marginal and generating alternative sources of income is desirable but difficult to achieve in practice. So how can this type of management be justified economically? There is no doubt that landowners embarking on ambitious rewilding projects are able to justify the costs involved and find ways of offsetting them. Tourism is often the main income generator, usually in the form of holiday accommodation. For example, Wildland offers luxury accommodation in a variety of locations and invites visitors to experience a wild landscape in the process of transition. Over the last few decades, interest in the natural environment and non-traditional outdoor pursuits has increased significantly. The outdoors has become a huge, year-round industry with people increasingly attracted to authentically wild outdoor experiences. The North Coast 500’s popularity demonstrates the universal attraction of remote places. Income can also come from unexpected sources. Knapp Estate successfully negotiated with the UK government to retain agricultural subsidies in return for delivering biodiversity improvements. Additionally, the estate offers accommodation, wild camping and guided safaris. Elsewhere, woodland creation grants help to fund and provide the incentive for both small and large scale native woodland restoration projects. paul.schofield@galbraithgroup.com 07717 227 417

Going wild on a highland estate A Perthshire estate has been pioneering rewilding in Scotland. Paul Schofield reports. BamFF eState, a few miles north of alyth in Perthshire, is a mixed estate that has been experimenting with rewilding for more than 20 years. In 2002, Bamff was the first estate to import beavers from Norway, an unpopular decision in some quarters but a bold one that has transformed part of the property into a series of ponds and swamps, creating a biodiverse wetland landscape like few others in the Highlands. Watching this transformation has attracted great interest. In addition to farming, eco-tourism in the form of holiday cottages and ‘glamping’ has become a main source of income. Since 1995, some 90 hectares of Caledonian pinewood has also been planted around Balduff Hill in the foothills to the south of Glen Isla. The owners, Paul and Louise Ramsay, recently decided to complete this work and engaged Galbraith to design a new native woodland on the remaining area of hill. In truth, planted native woodlands are rather poor imitations of the real thing because the complex soil fauna that develops beneath a continuous, long established tree canopy is largely absent from bare land. Some would argue that the trees themselves are the least important component of old growth native woodland – most of the biodiversity occurs below ground where a myriad of fungal mycorrhiza and other

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micro-organisms play an integral part in the cycling of nutrients, forming complex, interdependent relationships with the trees and other vegetation. All we can hope to do with new native woodland is create a seed source that perpetuates successive generations of trees and allows the site to slowly reestablish this complexity over the coming decades. From the outset, the aim is to match the right species to the site and establish the woodland quickly with as little soil disturbance as possible. Older woodland grant schemes sometimes limited species composition and did not enable some sites to meet their full potential. Scots pine is one element of the woodland mosaic that made up the post-glacial Caledonian forest but can end up as the dominant feature to the detriment of other species. At Bamff, there was scope to design a more diverse scheme reflecting the transition from acid grassland to moorland further up the hill with oak and pine co-existing on the same site. The boundary of the site is located at the very edge of the Forestry Commission’s Pinewood Zone, a line loosely drawn from pollen analysis denoting the natural extent of Caledonian Scots pine forest. From grassland at 280 metres, the land rises to dry heathland and the summit of Balduff Hill at 425 metres. Well drained brown earth soils grade into infertile podzols above about 320 metres. There is disagreement among ecologists about whether oak would originally have colonised podzolic soils but it will grow adequately, if slowly, beyond 350m with the main limiting factor being exposure

Profile for Galbraith

Galbraith Forestry Matters Summer 2019  

News and Insight from the Forestry Industry

Galbraith Forestry Matters Summer 2019  

News and Insight from the Forestry Industry