Although at a glance North Harris appears devoid of native woodland, an exploration of gullies, crags and islands will reveal a number of native tree species clinging on in those areas that sheep and deer struggle to reach. The most common species is rowan, but there is also some aspen, holly, honeysuckle, and willow, as well as a scattering of birch and hazel.
Native woodland has been identified as a Local Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitat for the Western Isles and it is clear from pollen analysis that woodland would once have been much more widespread in the Western Isles than it is now, with trees covering at least half of the land mass at one point.
Cha bhi sinn a’ smaoineachadh air an obair againn mun cuairt air coilltean mar “ath-fhiadhachadh”. Bha coilltean ri lorg air feadh na h-oighreachd o chionn fhada, agus bha fhathast coilltean mun cuairt sna Meadhan-Aoisean. Chaidh na coilltean meadhan-aoiseach a sgrios agus bu mhath linn na th’ air fhàgail dhiubh sin a neartachadh. Bidh seo uile math airson bith-iomadachd gu dearbh, ach bidh e math cuideachd dhan choimhearsnachd oir cuidichidh e an talamh, agus bidh e mar ghoireas dha dhaoine ann an iomadh dòigh.
Ged nach eil e soilleir sna làithean-seo, tha coilltean is craobhan mar phàirt den dùthchas againn cho mòr ’s a bhios am mòinteach.
Before the Trust came into being, a 100ha of Ardvourlie Common Grazings was fenced off and planted as native woodland by the Grazings Committee. The success of this scheme has provided much of the inspiration for the Trust’s subsequent projects. Three new native woodland schemes established on North Harris over the last decades have substantially increased the amount of woodland on the islands.
The Trust has been working to develop an interconnected network of woodland habitat across the estate and to increase the amount of woodland in North Harris wherever possible. Deer fenced exclosures and high density planting was undertaken in Gleann Mhiabhaig and Gleann Langadail to create pockets of established woodland in these otherwise barren landscapes.
Native Habitat Restoration Project
We have identified that the small but significant remnant native woodland scattered across the estate is concentrated along the shore line of Loch Seaforth. This is likely a result of there being a lower density of deer in this area and relatively more shelter from the prevailing south-westerly winds. Therefore, our long term aim has been to encourage regeneration around these existing woodland fragments, supplemented with sympathetic planting in other nearby areas where the conditions are suitable.
We are currently delivering an ambitious project to plant 180,000 native trees between Loch Àird Lacasdail and the shores of Loch Trolamaraig. This project relies on volunteers for its success, so please get in touch with our Ranger Service if you think you might be interested at firstname.lastname@example.org
These new stands of native woodland include tree species such as Sessile Oak and Scots Pine which are not present in woodland remnants. However, pollen analysis has shown that these species were once widespread on the Western Isles. Where peat has eroded in some areas, substantial trunks of mature pine trees have been exposed as further evidence that these species once thrived here.