The Week - Junior

Action needed to save Scottish pinewoods


Anew study has revealed that Scotland’s ancient pinewoods, called Caledonian forest, which date back to the last ice age, might disappear if more is not done to protect them.

The research, which took four years, was carried out by Trees for Life, a charity that aims to rewild the Scottish Highlands. This was the first big study into the health of Caledonian forest for more than 60 years. This type of woodland includes species such as Scots pine, birch and juniper. Lots of species live there, including red squirrels and birds such as capercaill­ie, crested tits and crossbills. Caledonian forest is a really important part of Scotland’s culture and environmen­t.

Trees for Life estimates that there are about 170 square kilometres of original pinewoods still surviving. In a quarter of the areas studied, the Scots pine, Scotland’s national tree, was found to be in serious decline. This is because of the spread of non-native trees (originally grown in other parts of the world), like the Sitka spruce, and the rising number of deer across Scotland, which eat young pine trees (saplings) and nibble bark, which damages growing young trees. Another risk to the trees is warmer temperatur­es caused by climate change.

Trees for Life is calling for immediate action to help these special woodlands before it’s too late. By controllin­g the size of the deer population, reducing the spread of non-native trees throughout Scotland and encouragin­g Caledonian forest to grow in cooler areas to cope with rising temperatur­es, the forests could still be saved. In some areas, these actions are already helping the pines to recover but more money is needed to help these habitats on a bigger scale. James Rainey, who led the study, said, “It’s not too late to turn this around, but that means seriously stepping-up restoratio­n and rewilding action.”

 ?? ?? Sitka spruce next to pinewoods.
Sitka spruce next to pinewoods.
 ?? ?? Red squirrels love pinewoods.
Red squirrels love pinewoods.

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