Your second stop is one of The Reserve’s most depressing!
Your walk this far has taken you through native woodland, but you are now surrounded by the ‘awful’ Sitka Spruce…. a North American tree that simply shouldn’t be here, and certainly not in straight rows and so close together.
Hundreds of years ago Scotland was covered in the Caledonian Pine Forest and looked very little like the Scotland you see today. To our shame there is now only around 5% of our native forests left.
Over many years it’s been replaced via an ill-conceived, government funded, program to stop us losing our woodlands completely, but through a lack of understanding and unclear rules and guidelines, it’s been by non native trees like Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir – with these 2 species accounting for an astounding 40% of the planting you see on your travels across our country. Mostly planted for profit with little or no care for conservation, wildlife or restoration of what had been destroyed.
Stop and listen – the chances are you don’t even hear a bird singing? Walk a little way into the woods – the forest floor is bare, it’s lifeless, so no food for the animals.
We have a lovely, dark, rich, peat soil, great for making whisky but quite acidic and only suitable to certain plants. As you can see the floor has a carpet of 22 years of dead pine needles, increasing the acidity and adding to the problems of plant growth both now and when the trees are felled.
With the purchase of this Reserve, Highland Titles have inherited many acres of this awful woodland and our aim is to remove it all as soon as practical and replace it with a natural mix of only native trees – although never in straight rows or so close together!
Only by removal and replacement will we be able to say we are conserving the land. Only when it’s gone and replaced will the native animals return to these sections of the Reserve. Only in time will it be as it once was, as it should be, and as it will now always remain.
Without you, our Lords, Lairds & Ladies, none of this work would be possible. You should take pride, as we do, in all that has been achieved here so fa, and all that will be achieved in the future.