Woodland Projects at Invercauld Estate

Meall Gorm Woodland Project

The Meall Gorm area of Invercauld Estate was fenced in 2006 after a successful deer fenced regeneration project of 3.3 hectares had been undertaken in 2000.

The area within the deer fence today is approximately 1,660 hectares. The objective was to seek multi-purpose conservation enhancement within the area whilst also maintaining way-marked walking routes and providing sporting stalking.

The project included the removal of 5,000 metres of redundant fences, marking of new fences to mitigate against capercaillie strike risk, managing herbivore impacts (including deer), seeking natural regeneration of, and planting, native tree species thereby creating natural corridors and increasing the woodland edge habitat for priority species including black grouse, capercaillie and red squirrel.

The success of the project has been recently measured with approximately 170 hectares (419 acres) of natural regeneration of native species including Scots Pine, Silver Birch, Alder, Rowan and Juniper achieved since 2006, the creation of around 60 kilometres of new woodland edge and the planting of 32 hectares of new Scots Pine, Birch and Grey and Eared Willow.

The project has demonstrated that very significant natural tree regeneration, native woodland planting, sporting stalking and access management in an area of high public access can be combined successfully for environmental, social and economic benefit with appropriate fencing and herbivore management.

Riparian Woodland Schemes

Riparian woodland schemes have been working to optimise Atlantic salmon habitats, with a specific focus on the Gairn River at Invercauld Estate. Invercauld has worked directly with the Dee and Don Riparian Habitat Enhancement Project to develop extensive riparian woodland schemes in its Highland region, originally under the Pearls in Peril Project. In doing so, water temperatures are lowered in a bid to optimise spawning and rearing habitats for salmon and pearl mussels, stabilise river banks, improve rainwater retention to reduce flooding, and to create leaf litter into the river providing nutrition for invertebrates.

Designated a European Special Area of Conservation, the importance of this salmon population is underlined. Working alongside the Riparian Habitat Enhancement Project, Invercauld strives to ensure the river is healthy, and continues a thriving natural environment for sustainable fish stocks.

Flora Grigor-Taylor, joint manager at the project suggested that this form of afforestation may be “the way to go for fisheries management”, rather than continuously putting more fish stocks into an unsuitable environment.

Working closely with keepers and factors, the conservationist body has installed fenced square blocks of native woodland species along the riverbank, in the hope of improving salmon spawning and rearing habitats, without compromising the management of deer and grouse at the same site.

Supporting the drive for an environmentally sustainable future through critical analysis of land management and community engagement in planning and implementation of strategies, Invercauld operates as a backbone to local livelihood and future sustainability of Braemar itself.