Woodland Trust eyes up "largest ever" ancient woodland restoration site

Conservation charity the Woodland Trust has launched an appeal to fund purchase of one of the largest remaining fragments of Scotland's ancient Caledonian pinewood.

Image: Woodland Trust
Image: Woodland Trust

Totalling around 1,000 hectares, the Loch Arkaig Pine Forest north of Fort William consists of two areas of native Caledonian pine, oak and birch woodland, together comprising one of the largest remaining fragments of the once vast Caledonian pinewood.

The ancient woodland was clear-felled in the 18th century, overplanted with non-native conifers in the 1960s and is grazed by sheep and deer. It is currently part of the National Forestry Estate, run by Forest Enterprise Scotland.

The trust says it has "only have a few months" to raise the £500,000 needed to buy the site, but has forecast it will then take "20 years of hard work and around £4.5 million" to fully restore, in partnership with the local Arkaig Community Forest group.

It said on its appeal page: "The opportunity to buy woodland of international importance on this scale is virtually unheard of. We must act quickly if we are to keep this beautiful woodland, teeming with rare and wonderful wildlife, safe."

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