Specialist surveys have been underway over the summer and we're getting a picture of the life on Dundreggan.
It's been a busy summer at Dundreggan, with a number of specialist biological surveys underway, to provide a set of baseline data about the biological diversity currently found on the estate. The surveys have been carried out by experts in their respective fields for different groups of organisms, including bryophytes (ie mosses and liverworts), aquatic invertebrates, beetles, wood ants and fungi. Another survey, of lichens, is underway as this newsletter goes to press, and we also had a detailed vegetation survey carried out on the estate in August. I've continued to make regular visits to Dundreggan, to meet the various surveyors, as has Colin Blyth, and this is enabling us to build up a picture of the life that is currently on the land there.
Thanks to the grant we've received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Colin Blyth took up the post of Project Planning Officer for Dundreggan in July, and he's been spending quite a lot of time getting to know the estate since then. I've been out with him for several days, and, like so many people who go there, he's really impressed by both its beauty and by the potential for large-scale forest restoration. He writes:
"Dundreggan is not one of the iconic features of the Scottish environmental landscape, such as Glen Affric or the Cairngorms. It is, however, a beautiful and captivating place and, since becoming involved as Project Planning Officer, Dundreggan has seeped into my consciousness in more subtle and deeper ways. I love projects like this where I can appreciate intimate details without losing sight of the wider context and aims.
That's my heart talking; my head already recognises that Dundreggan has the potential to be a habitat restoration project of major significance. The fundamental building blocks are already there to restore a wide range of habitats, from floodplain woodland, through high forest (including tree line/krumholz) to montane scrub and other more open montane habitats. The scale of the project is large and this presents tremendous opportunities to accommodate traditional woodland restoration practice and to experiment with more innovative techniques."
Colin is proving to be an excellent addition to our team, and is making good progress with the initial development of a management plan for Dundreggan. To date, his work has been focussed largely on data collection and familiarisation with the land itself. As the survey results come in towards the end of the year, they will be incorporated into computerised maps of the estate, using GIS (Geographical Information Systems) software. This will enable him to create an integrated 5 year management plan and a longer term strategy for the restoration of forest and the recovery of other vegetation communities on Dundreggan.
Although we haven't received the main reports from most of the surveys yet, the work done so far confirms our initial impression that Dundreggan is a biologically rich and very interesting site. Of particular note is the widespread distribution of both juniper (Juniperus communis), mainly in the southern half of the estate but occurring everywhere, and dwarf birch (Betula nana), which is abundant throughout the northeast part of the land. Another species that has been found in good numbers on the open land is alpine bearberry (Arctostaphylos alpinus).
To date, a total of 33 species that are subjects of Species Action Plans (SAPs) under the government's response to the Biodiversity Convention have been identified on the Estate. While some of these are familiar species, such as juniper, pine marten (Martes martes) and black grouse (Tetrix tetrao), others are less well-known for example, the neglected rustic moth (Xestia castanea) and two species of tooth fungi (Hydnellum peckii and Phellodon tomentosus). 19 out of these 33 SAP species are moths, but that is a reflection of the fact that it is only the moth survey that we've got the final report for, rather than being an indication that Dundreggan is more important for moths than other groups of organisms.
Following the government's review of the Biodiversity Action Plan process in June, the number of species that are the subject of SAPs has increased from 577 to 1149, so we expect that the present total of 33 on Dundreggan will increase considerably when all the surveys are completed.
Pages about Biodiversity on Dundreggan on this site
New discoveries in charity's 'Lost world' Highland Estate - 20th January 2012
Biodiversity News - April 2011
Rare and endangered species found in Highlands estate's "lost world" - 17th December 2010
Rare sawfly discovered for first time in UK - 5th November 2010
Biodiversity surveys and discoveries - October 2010
Biodiversity surveys at Dundreggan - May 2010
Alder tongue fungus found at Dundreggan (and near Plodda Lodge) - 15 April 2010
Biodiversity surveys identify over 50 key species on Highland Estate - 15th February 2010
Biodiversity discoveries - November 2009
Biodiversity surveys - August 2009
Surveys and biodiversity discoveries - November 2008
Reaping the results of our biodiversity surveys - May 2008
Dundreggan's diversity keeps growing! - November 2007
Biodiversity on Dundreggan - First impressions, August 2006
Biodiversity on Dundreggan
The most dramatic discovery on Dundreggan so far has not come from the specialist surveys, but instead is due to the dedication and observational skills of local Glen Moriston resident Jane Bowman. Jane is an enthusiastic naturalist who spends many hours walking on Dundreggan and has been documenting the species, particularly insects, that she comes across some of her photographs have featured in recent editions of Caledonia Wild!.
In August, she made a remarkable discovery when she observed an unusual bee on the estate. This was subsequently confirmed as being a mining bee (Andrena marginata) that was presumed to have been extinct in Scotland since 1949! (although a solitary individual was recorded in Strathspey in 2002). The presence of this bee in good numbers on Dundreggan and surrounding areas of Glen Moriston has created considerable excitement amongst entomologists, and adds substantially to the biological importance of the estate.
Almost 18 months have gone by now since we expected our purchase of Dundreggan to be completed, and it's been a major source of frustration that it has been delayed for so long. This has been due to legal complexities surrounding the Executory of the late owner (an elderly Italian man who died without leaving a will), but it appears that these issues have now been resolved and we've been given indications that the sale should be complete by the end of the year. While we're not ready to celebrate just yet, given the time it can take solicitors to complete the formalities, it does look like we are nearly there now, and that we should take formal title to Dundreggan in the near future.
In the meantime, I'd like to express again our thanks and gratitude to everyone who has contributed towards the purchase, and especially to the large donors, both for their support, and for their patience while we've waited for these delays to be resolved.
Alan Watson Featherstone
Pages about Dundreggan on this site
- Dundreggan home page
- Become a Friend of Dundreggan
- The Dundreggan Estate - the perfect site for forest restoration. Management plan in brief.
- £1.65 million Dundreggan deal a milestone for Scotland's Caledonian Forest
- Our purchase of Dundreggan is complete, at last - August 2008
- Dundreggan News: articles from 2006 to the present
- First impressions of Dundreggan's potential for forest restoration
- Biodiversity on Dundreggan - First impressions, August 2006
- Biodiversity on Dundreggan
- The History of the Dundreggan Estate