Pine tree enthusiasts
The Scot’s pine trees act as vital habitat and food source for a range of species
The two species of wood ant that live in Scotland are both members of the Formica family. They build huge domed nests out of pine needles, which can be up to 1.5 metres (4.9 feet) high. Wood ants feed on other insects and also farm aphids for their honeydew.
Although timberman beetles are found throughout Europe, Russia and Asia, they are rare in the UK and thought to live only in the Caledonian Forest. They are usually very hard to spot, but as they feed on dead wood they are sometimes attracted to felled pine trunks.
Having suffered a severe decline elsewhere due to the arrival of their grey cousins, the red squirrel is enjoying a revival in the pine forests of Scotland due to an increase in pine martens. While the lighter red squirrels can evade them, the greys are not so fast and often fall to the pine martens.
The UK’s only endemic bird, the Scottish crossbill is found in the Caledonian Forest and some other areas of native and non-native pine trees in northern Scotland. Their bills are perfectly designed to open pine cones, allowing them to eat the seeds inside.
Ospreys are faithful to their nesting sites and can return to the same nest for up to two decades. Each year they add more nesting material, so the final nest can be as much as two metres (6.6 feet) deep and require a very sturdy tree to sustain it. Large, mature pine trees are often a preferred nesting option.
Thought to be one of the most endangered species in Scotland, the pine hoverfly is found at only a couple of sites. Their larvae require very specific conditions to develop – living in the water-filled stumps of old Scot’s pine trees. The adult flies are less fussy and will feed on a wide range of leaves.
“Bears, wolves and lynx were all deemed a threat to people and wiped out at different times”