The long term vision for Attadale Estate’s woodlands is to increase the quality and extent of native woodland habitat through new woodland creation and the encouragement of natural regeneration within the existing woodlands, thereby providing forest habitat networks both within the estate’s woodlands and beyond.
As part of this, all of the non-native conifer woodlands will be clear felled over 2 years, 2018-19, to allow the estate to convert these areas to native woodland, thus greatly enhancing and expanding the nationally important Caledonian pinewoods and the ancient semi-natural woodlands across the estate.
The felling areas are currently stocked with a mix of Lodgepole pine, Sitka spruce and larch. Across Scotland Lodgepole pine is suffering from a disease called Dothistroma Needle Blight (DNB). This causes defoliation which can continue year on year and gradually weaken the tree, significantly reducing timber yields. It can also eventually lead to death of the tree. Current guidance from the Scottish Forestry advises the prompt removal of highly susceptible species such as Lodgepole pine in order to reduce inoculum levels of the pathogen to prevent infection to the adjacent Caledonian pinewood zones.
The felled areas will be replanted in 2021 with a mix of native Scots pine, birch, hazel, aspen and willows to reflect better the ground conditions and the surrounding environment. The inclusion of open ground responding to natural edges, watercourses and flushes will allow the new native woodland to appear more fitting to the landscape.
It is proposed to enclose both areas within one perimeter fence; this will enable the site to be managed as one unit creating a more naturalised woodland. The nationally designated Caledonian Pinewood situated along the Allt a’Ghiubhais burn will be protected within this fence encouraging natural regeneration of the pinewood.
To compensate for the loss of cover/forage within these areas, previously established native woodlands situated along the Eas Ban will gradually be opened up over the next 5 years. The existing fence lines will be dropped in sections identified by the estate staff to allow gradual incursion. A baseline regeneration survey has been carried out within these woodlands which has shown the sites to have established well, with significant areas of natural regeneration both inside and out with the fence lines providing enough significant woodland cover to support a healthy deer population. The total area within these sites is approx. 28ha. Although this is significantly less than the felling areas, the sites will provide a better quality cover and forage environment.
Between 2019-2021 the estate are creating over 286ha of new native woodlands, this equates to almost half a million trees!
The expansion of native woodland across the estate will protect and improve the fragmented habitat networks within the nationally important Caledonian Pinewood areas. The woodlands will reflect the surrounding environment creating diverse and resilient woodlands for generations to come.
The estate have recently entered into the Forest Stewardship Council ® [FSC] certification scheme which confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves the natural ecosystems and benefits the lives of local people and workers, all while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
The scheme provides an independent assessment of compliance with the law, forestry codes of practice and guidelines. Examples of assessment subjects include health and safety, training and contractor qualifications, environmental impacts of forest operations – including wildlife, habitats, archaeological features, soil and water protection.