Forestry accounts for over 10% of the land we manage and is a vital aspect of our approach to biodiversity and sustainability. We are continuously looking at ways to develop our woodland management plan through new plantations and natural regeneration schemes.
At the heart of our woodlands are the Arran Whitebeams (Sorbus Arranensis and Sorbus Pseudofennica along with the newly uncovered species of Sorbus Pseudomeinichii) which all grow in Glen Catacol and the surrounding environs. These are Scotland’s rarest trees and have been officially recognised by the WWF as some of the most endangered species in the world with less than 500 trees growing in the wild.
The Arran Whitebeam was first recorded in 1897 and is thought to have arisen as a natural hybrid between the rock whitebeam (Sorbus Rupicola) and the ubiquitous rowan (sorbus aucuparia). The other rare hybrid, the Arran cut-leaved whitebeam was first noted in 1952 and arose from crossing the Arran whitebeam with the rowan. They are typically small in stature and are under constant threat from strong gales and heavy snow storms. They have a very fragile root structure and are easily dislodged from the rocky soil they inhabit.
We currently manage over 2,500 acres of broad-leaf woodlands with the aim of increasing this through a programme of planting and encouraging natural regeneration. In turn, we hope these areas will improve that the natural habitat for many of our iconic species such as the red squirrel.
We have 135 acres of commercial woodland, the majority being Sitka Spruce and we continue to look at viable opportunities to further develop this using native species which will both provide a sustainable crop as well as aiding biodiversity within our woodlands.