The ACF have been very lucky to have received a wonderful letter of support from the Director of the Woodland Trust Scotland
Thank you for contacting us about the proposed community acquisition of South Arkaig and Glenmallie Forest through the National Forest Land Scheme. I am writing to express Woodland Trust Scotland’s support for this initiative, which we feel is an important step towards safeguarding a Caledonian pinewood habitat of national importance.
We understand that more than half of the area of this forest is recorded on the Ancient Woodland Inventory. This is significant when considered against the tiny area of native woodlands of semi natural origin surviving in Scotland (approx. 1% of the land area). Ancient woodland is our most precious habitat; it is scarce and irreplaceable and supports some of our rarest and most vulnerable species. While the ecological integrity of South Arkaig and Glenmallie has clearly been compromised by past events and management, it undoubtedly remains an important repository of ancient woodland biodiversity.
Importantly, the forest is located in an ‘ancient woodland hotspot’ which represents an opportunity not only to secure and restore biodiversity within the site, but also to contribute to the development of buffering and habitat linkages between ancient woodland fragments across the wider landscape. Within the blocks proposed for acquisition, there are tracts of open ground, at least some of which will be suitable for new woodland creation, thus expanding the total area of native woodland.
Given the importance of these woodlands, it is vital that a long term plan for sensitive and appropriate management is in place. It seems strongly preferable that this asset should remain within the public realm, and ideally within community ownership with the potential for real, local benefit.
The issue of ancient woodland restoration is pressing, and much of what survives in Scotland has yet to be brought into appropriate management; the longer action is delayed, the less likely it is to succeed. The Woodland Trust is a leader in this area, and is currently engaged in a major UK-wide initiative working collaboratively with owners to help establish positive management and restoration techniques that will in turn deliver not only healthy, thriving restored ancient woodlands, but a range of benefits for people.
We welcome the proposal from the Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes Group to take on ownership and management of this forest, and look forward to exploring ways in which our involvement may help secure and expand this valuable woodland resource.
Director For Scotland