The Great Trossachs Forest LSER case study

trossachs-lser-mapKey facts

Partners: FCS; RSPB; Woodland Trust Scotland; Scottish Forest Alliance;  Scottish Water and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park are key stakeholders.

Extent: 16,650ha

Habitats and species: Native broadleaved woodland; wood pasture; acid and mesic grassland; heathland; mire and peatland;  montane mosaics;  black grouse.

Duration: 200 years

Monitoring: Site condition monitoring; species/habitats surveys; monitoring carbon sequestration.

Introduction

The Great Trossachs Forest is one of the largest broadleaved woodland regeneration projects in Britain.  It comprises restoration work at three sites: Inversnaid RSPB reserve, the National Forest Estate area surrounding Loch Katrine and the Woodland Trust-managed Glen Finglas estate.  Over a 200 year period, the initiative aims to restore a fairly degraded upland landscape to a more natural habitat mosaic with significantly enhanced ecosystem functions.

Aims and objectives

  1. Habitat Management: To create a forest landscape large enough to support a dynamic and functional ecosystem, which expands and contracts over time, allowing habitats and species to adapt to climate change.  This includes protecting and enhancing over 10,000 hectares of native woodland, moorland, montane scrub, wood pasture, grassland and wetland; and creating around 4400ha of native woodland.
  2. People engagement: To become a renowned focal point offering a high quality visitor experience attracting visitors from the UK and overseas, benefiting local communities both socially and economically.  This will includes improved access and engaging local communities and businesses by working with them.
  3. Life-long learning: Involving schools, universities, research institutes and volunteers; and providing opportunities for people to learn about cultural landscapes, forest ecosystems, sustainable land management, climate change, biodiversity and wildlife.
  4. Partnership working: To be a flagship partnership project, setting an example and encouraging other land managers to work across boundaries to benefit wildlife and people.
  5. Other: Delivering quality water to Glasgow and enabling delivery of the priorities set by Loch Katrine’s Integrated Catchment Management Plan.

In addition the project contributes to a 200-year programme of research and monitoring to understand the benefits of ecosystem restoration, particularly in relation to carbon management.

Approach to restoration

Each site and partner has specific management objectives for their landholdings that will be delivered within the wider planning framework.

The project focuses on:

  • natural regeneration of native woodlands  and planting of new native woodland, with deer control primarily by fencing;
  • protection and enhancement of priority open ground habitats;
  • management of wood pasture.

Conservation grazing by cattle is used on three sites. Integrated Habitat Network modelling is being used to guide restoration efforts. The work is part of the Scottish Forest Alliance’s wider programme that involves significant scientific input from Forest Research on woodland biodiversity and monitoring carbon sequestration by native woodland.

Key issues

Benefits and ecosystem services

The project is intended to restore a range of ecosystem functions with a strong focus on woodland and upland biodiversity, carbon sequestration and water quality.  Climate change is a project driver and was central to attracting British Petroleum (BP)’s investment of £10million in the Scottish Forest Alliance.  BP own the rights to any potential future carbon credits.

Particular expertise

The Great Trossachs Forest organisations have particular expertise in:

  • deer management, especially in relation to the cumulative impacts of large, fenced enclosures on deer movement and welfare, and how this impacts on neighbouring land holdings;
  • implementing a flexible partnership model, involving multiple organisations delivering a common vision across several landholdings via a range of working methods;
  • management of wood pasture involving use of livestock;
  • management in ways that ensure high water quality;
  • the use of Integrated Habitat Networks in guiding restoration action. 

Challenges

  • It has taken more time than anticipated to get the project properly embedded within the member organisations. 
  • The difficulties of managing expectations within the local community.  These can be too high, and/or local interests can expect delivery over unrealistically short time scales.  It is hard for people to grasp the slow progress of ecological change and envisage future landscapes and their benefits.
  • How to properly gauge opinion within local communities, when this can be distorted by particularly vocal individuals or groups.
  • The need to establish high quality communication right from the start.

Potential lessons

  • When working as a multiple-owner partnership, it is important to adopt a flexible approach to management, to allow for the different organisational remits and working practices of the partner organisations. 
  • There is value in multiple-owner partnerships, because members can learn from their different experience of, and approaches to, restoration.
  • The value of having partners commit to a 200 year programme, which allows for long term planning.
  • Usefulness of having a dedicated member of staff, rather than relying  on existing staff slotting the LSER work into their other work programmes.
  • The Great Trossachs Forest (as an SFA site) demonstrates the potential of attracting corporate investment.