Friday 17 April 2015

Montane scrub for Corehead?

This weekend we have our annual High Camp at Carrifran where we will be heading up into Firth Hope to plant a variety of montane scrub species.
We have done a little bit of this at Corehead but we are hoping to extend current planting. In order to plan for this we had a visit by Stuart Adair and Philip Ashmole to give advice on suitability and how best to go about this.
We met at the top of the BeefTub and began the walk towards Hartfell. Along the way we had some interesting discussions about access and path maintenance, the impact of a possible nearby windfarm development as well as getting distracted at some interesting spots along the way.
Harestail Bog Cotton Eriophorum vaginatum

Damage caused by quads and other vehicles from when we were planting in Lochan Burn are starting to re-vegetate
Some of this erosion has allowed small bog pools to develop - great habitat for frogs and invertebrates
Spot the tadpoles
As we approached Lochan Burn we stopped for a break and looked towards the areas we are considering for montane scrub.

Looking across Lochan Burn towards Hartfell
Stuart and Philip provided some interesting suggestions on the planting of species such as Dwarf birch Betula nana, Downy willow Salix lapponum, Tea leaved willow Salix phylicifolia and Juniper Junipurus communis, up to about 650m. These are all 'low growing' species which over time will form a carpet of shrubs rather than a high canopy woodland which just wouldn't grow at this height. 
Stuart looking at the soils on Hartfell shoulder. Some areas were surprisingly peaty with better soils found under patches of wood rush Luzula sylvatica

Green flushes like these would be perfect for Downy willow Salix lapponum

Stuart emphasised the importance of heather and blaeberry on the slopes, as an important precursor to planting. Although this was patchy, and in some cases absent on parts of Hartfell shoulder, he was encouraged by regeneration in other areas and explained that given a few years, these would spread and would be suitable for Juniper planting.
It was a really  interesting day and Stuart is going to write a report for us. It was also really useful to walk the site and see what species are starting to recover since grazing ceased. Interestingly, a lot of these things you would quite commonly find in woodlands!

Wood anemone Anemone nemorosa

Opposite leaved golden saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

Natural regeneration of Rowan Sorbus aucuparia

Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella

Primrose Primula vulgaris

Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara and Horsetail Equisetum arvense in Whitehope

A large length of decaying wood that had fallen from an old Rowan along the Pot Burn
Mole hills!

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