Return of the wee trees

日期:2019-02-26 09:18:01 作者:綦层 阅读:

By Rob Edwards CONSERVATIONISTS are launching a campaign to bring back the stunted trees that used to cloak the Scottish Highlands. This montane scrub, which grows between forested foothills and heather-clad summits, is a rich habitat that has been eaten away by deer and sheep. A report to be published later this month by the government conservation organisation Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) says that native scrub “has effectively been lost”. There may be only one remaining patch at Creag Fiaclach, 650 metres up in the Cairngorms, where gnarled, knee-high Scots pine and juniper have been protected from overgrazing. Chris Sydes, a botanist with the SNH in Edinburgh, argues that the only way to restore montane scrub is to radically alter the way landowners manage Highland estates: “Ideally, sheep and deer grazing as we know it would have to virtually cease.” Scrub would then slowly recolonise the upper slopes. It could provide a habitat for endangered birds like the black grouse, Tetrao tetrix. The SNH has joined with the Forestry Commission, the National Trust for Scotland, the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh and the charity Plantlife to form an action group dedicated to bringing montane scrub back to the Highlands. “The Scottish hills would be much richer for its return,” says Michael Scott of Plantlife. The group has also launched a newsletter for those working in the field, called Scrubbers’ Bulletin. However,