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Coille Ruigh na Cuileige: regeneration amidst dead pines

Practical results of our work

Coille Ruigh na Cuileige is a 50 hectare exclosure which was the first significant project we carried out with Forest Enterprise in Glen Affric. The fence was erected in 1990 to exclude grazing red deer. The site had a large number of seedlings, meaning that no planting was required. Since the fence was completed, no further management has been carried out to assist the return of the trees. The area has been left to allow natural regeneration to run its course. It is the only exclosure on Forest Enterprise land in Glen Affric where natural regeneration is the sole method of forest recovery.

Our original Coille Ruigh results page focuses on the regeneration of the champion pine in Coille Ruigh. In another part of the Coille Ruigh na Cuileige exclosure, three standing dead Scots pine snags provide a potent symbol for the historic decline of the forest, and the new generation of trees that the fence is enabling to grow there.

Dead pines in 1990 The dead pines photographed at the time the Coille Ruigh fence was put up in 1990. Because of the grazing pressure from red deer, no young trees were able to grow.
Dead pines and seedlings in 2000 By September 2000, young Scots pines and birches are visible, regenerating naturally around the skeletons of the dead trees.
Dead pines and seedlings in 2007 By September 2007, after 17 years of protection, the young trees are well-established and are bringing a whole new generation of life to the area.
Dead pines and young trees in 2009 March 2009, and an unusually heavy snow fall blankets the area. It is in conditions like this when unprotected young trees are most vulnerable to grazing by deer, but these trees here are safe, because the Coille Ruigh fence is still in good condition, more than 18 years after it was erected.
Dead pines and young trees in 2010 By August 2010, some of the regenerating pines are almost as tall as the dead trees. Those snags, as they are known, are virtually unchanged in the 20 years since the first photo was taken. The high resin content in the pines' wood acts as a natural preservative, and skeleton pines such as these can persist for many decades, or even a century, before rotting away, and provide an important habitat for a range of dead wood-dependent species.

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Published: 16 March 2004
Last updated: 17 September 2010

Trees for Life is an award winning conservation charity working to restore the Caledonian Forest
and all its species to a large contiguous area in the Highlands of Scotland.

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