Friday 8 May 2015

Scots pine at Carrifran

We’ve written a few blog posts this winter on the planting we’ve been doing at Wildwood. We’ve been out in all conditions working in some pretty challenging terrain and weather conditions and last Tuesday was no different.

Priest Gill in spate

Raven Craig and Firthhope Linn in spate

While most of the volunteers were working through our last load of aspen (kindly donated to us by The Woodland Trust – full story to come soon), we had a small team planting one species of which we have relatively few of at Carrifran – the Scots pine Pinus sylvestris.

Whilst the clue is in the name, the planting of Scots pine has always been something of a debate. Analysis of fossil pollen has shown that it was abundant in these hills for several millennia after the last Ice Age, but that it subsequently disappeared . At Carrifran we try to put back all the  species that we believe would have grown in the valley before intensive grazing and deforestation. The question is should Scots pine be one of those species? We feel that it should, but in small numbers.

Since 2008 members of the Wildwood Steering Group have been collecting seed from what may be the only remnant of native Scots pine in England, on the fringe of Kielder Forest. This is the closest stand of ‘natural’ Scots Pine to Carrifran, and is therefore the best available provenance. Some seeds have been propagated by Michael Matthews and some were sent to Alba Trees;, and this year we had around 50 saplings to plant.

A small Scots pine sapling
We planted around half of the trees in the northern end of Rispie Lairs. 

Philip with some of the saplings planted on the slope
Philip also selected the crags in Priest Craig as a suitable location. 

Putting the guards on recently planted saplings
We had planted some in previous years and they seemed to be doing well in both these areas, apart from a few that had been flattened – though not killed – by an avalanche in the past winter. We protected all of the saplings with guards and stakes which will hopefully keep them safe from browsing deer.

We have some more follow up work to do in the summer and we’ll keep a close eye on how things are  doing.

Site Officer

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