|| Site management
"Integrating conservation management
and rural development in a fragile area"
- Removal of non-native
species, in particular non-native conifers, Rhododendron ponticum
- Control of grazing
within the woodlands, to ensure adequate regeneration and a good age
and species mix.
- Management of
the semi-natural woodlands to enhance conservation values.
of Natura 2000 in overall site management:
The Natura 2000
area forms a significant proportion of the total woodland area in the
project, although a lesser proportion of the total land area in the
project (because the rural development opportunities relating to the
SAC, especially tourism, extend beyond the confines of the designated
area). The steering group of the Sunart Oakwoods Initiative, comprising
representatives of local agencies and community groups, overseas its
work and integrates those activities which relate primarily to management
of the designated area, with activities relating to the wider agendas
- To bring existing
semi-natural woodlands and other habitats into favourable condition;
- To increase the
area of such habitats;
- To restore degraded
habitats by removal of the threats to them;
- To engage local
communities in these activities;
- To manage habitats
collectively over multiple ownerships;
- To realise the
potential of the habitats as an educational and recreational resource,
for both local communities and visitors;
- To derive rural
development benefit from the above activities.
woodlands were threatened by overgrazing, invasion by Rhododendron ponticum,
and the past planting of non-native conifers within them. The pattern
of local land ownership required a co-operative approach to these issues.
Furthermore, to maximise the local benefit of these management activities,
support was required locally to train and certify individuals to carry
out various land management activities.
targeted as part of management action:
- Local community
groups including community councils (Acharacle, Sunart, Morvern, West
Ardnamurchan, and latterly Ardgour, Community Councils);
- Private landowners,
mainly those along the north shore of Loch Sunart; some bigger private
estates in Morvern have also been involved;
- Local contractors;
- Relevant public
agencies: Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage,
Highland Council and Lochaber Enterprise;
- Tourism providers.
of work carried out / methods and methodology:
- Control of grazing
levels: this has been achieved by deer fencing, typically through
larger strategic enclosures, coupled with culling within enclosures.
Sheep & cattle have been removed, with the exception of small
scale trials of cattle grazing within woodland.
- Removal of Rhododendron
ponticum: primarily by cutting mature bushes, then spraying regrowth
and small bushes with Glyphosate. More recently a physical method
avoiding the use of chemicals ('lever and mulch') has been developed
and trialled in certain areas.
- Removal of non-native
conifers: where possible, conifers have been harvested from sites
commercially with the timber income helping offset the costs of clearance.
In addition to this, conifers have been felled-to-recycle, where the
felled trees are left in the forest, where site conditions and economics
- Mink control
has been by trapping followed by humane despatch.
of access facilities (paths; car parking; wildlife hide): Access works
have been concentrated on those sites which have been most degraded
by the threats to them (e.g. where conifers have been planted).
action and activities:
The Sunart Oakwoods
Initiative has developed a strategy document for the period 2005-20015.
A Management Strategy for the Sunart SAC has also been developed by
the Sunart SAC Management Forum (this forum has similar membership to
the SOI but is more closely focused on the SAC, compared with the wider
agenda of the SOI).
Constituent groups within the SOI often also have their own constitutions,
strategies or management plans (e.g. the North Sunart Woodland Group
mentioned above, which has a joint management plan).
Threats to the woodlands
have been greatly reduced and management programmes for the next 25
years continue to focus on removing these threats for the long term,
and restoring natural habitats. Much work has already been done to restore
habitats, and woodland regeneration on restored areas is successful.
The communities of the area are engaged with this work and see the wider
opportunities arising. Visitor numbers continue to increase, and the
Natura 2000 habitats form a core area of interest within the wider area.
Rural development opportunities are focused on tourism, local utilisation
of timber, and adding value by application of a range of woodland related
The approach taken in the Sunart Oakwoods has attracted considerable
interest both within Scotland, the wider UK and abroad.
||Indication of budget
allocation for these tasks:
By mid-2008, it
is estimated that around £3 million (approx EURO 4,300,000) will
have been spent within the Sunart Oakwoods Initiative area, which includes
the Natura 2000 sites, since 1996.