Ambassador profile


  Name: Jamie McIntyre
  Function: Sunart Community Forester
  Country: Scotland
  E-mail: jamie.mcintyre(at)
  Tel: +44 01967 402165

Organisation profile


  Organisation: Sunart Oakwoods Initiative (SOI)
  E-mail: jamie.mcintyre(at)
  Tel: +44 01967 402165
  Established: 1990-2005
  Category: NGO
  Number of staff: 2
Site profile
  Site name:
  • Ardgour Pinewoods SAC,
  • Ardnamurchan Burns SAC,
  • Beinn Iadain & Beinn na h'Uamha SAC,
  • Claish Moss & Kentra Moss SAC,
  • Loch Moidart & Loch Shiel Woods SAC,
  • Loch Shiel SPA,
  • Morvern Woods SAC,
  • River Moidart SAC,
  • Sound of Arisaig mSAC,
  • Sunart SAC

(Sunart Oakwoods Initiative area, Ardnamurchan & Morvern)


Lochaber, Highland

  Land area:
  • Ardgour Pinewoods SAC - 1,647.32 ha,
  • Ardnamurchan Burns SAC - 24.98 ha,
  • Beinn Iadain & Beinn na h'Uamha SAC - 524.85 ha
  • Claish Moss & Kentra Moss SAC - 1,013.78 ha
  • Loch Moidart & Loch Shiel Woods SAC - 1,756.77 ha
  • Loch Shiel SPA - 2,290.94 ha
  • Morvern Woods SAC - 1,559.95 ha
  • River Moidart SAC - 15.69 ha
  • Sound of Arisaig mSAC - 4,556.65 ha
  • Sunart SAC - 10,247.13 ha

Total = 21,990.47 ha

  Nearest urban settlement:

Fort William

  Natura 2000 ID:
  • Ardgour Pinewoods SAC - UK0013091,
  • Ardnamurchan Burns SAC - UK0030079,
  • Beinn Iadain & Beinn na h'Uamha SAC - UK0012864,
  • Claish Moss & Kentra Moss SAC - UK0019771,
  • Loch Moidart & Loch Shiel Woods SAC - UK0030209,
  • Loch Shiel SPA - UK0001721,
  • Morvern Woods SAC - UK0030217,
  • River Moidart SAC - UK0012994,
  • Sound of Arisaig mSAC - UK0019802,
  • Sunart SAC - UK0019803.

  Annual visitor count:

In excess of 40,000 (based on counts at key sites e.g. wildlife hide)

  Majority of visitors from:
Majority from the UK, mostly Scottish central belt and south of England. Some Europeans too, particularly Dutch, Italian and German.
Summertime is mainly family groups, with spring and autumn more likely to be younger or older couples, often on short breaks/long weekends.
  Site description:

SAC/SPA sites hosting a number of Natura habitats and species:
Ardgour Pinewoods, Beinn Iadain and Beinn na H-Uamha, Claish Moss and Kentra Moss, Loch Moidart and Loch Shiel Woods, Morvern Woods, Sunart


All species
  Species code Latin name Common / local name
  1335 Lutra lutra Otter
  1106 Salmo salar Atlantic salmon
  1351 Phocoena phocoena Harbour porpoise
  1365 Phoca vitulina Common seal
  1029 Margaritifera margaretifera Freshwater pearl mussel
All habitats (* indicates priority habitats)
  Habitat code Common / local name
  91A0 Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles (Western acidic oak woodland)
  9180* Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines (Mixed woodland on base-rich soils associated with rocky slopes)
  4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix (Wet heathland with cross-leaved heath)
  4030 European dry heaths (Dry heaths)
  1170 Reefs
  91C0* Caledonian forest
  91E0* Aluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alder woodland on floodplains)
  7130 Blanket Bogs
  7150 Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchsporion (Depressions on peat substrates)
  1140 Intertidal mudflats and sandflats (Sub tidal mudflats)
Stakeholder profile        
  Stakeholder activity in the management planning process:
  Stakeholder group activity level
  hi ←       → nil
  Local Government        
  Central Government        
  Private landowners        
  Green NGOs        
  Private sector        
  Private individuals        
  Recreational groups        
  Other: Community companies        
  Other: Community councils        
  Other: Community woodland groups        
Stakeholder success stories

Management partnership

A strong management partnership has been formed between neighbouring woodland owners, with the aim of managing a significant area of the SAC collectively. This group has developed a joint management plan, and also invested in training and equipment for the small-scale and sensitive management of the woodland SAC, supported by Leader+ and local funding.
The name of this group is the North Sunart Woodland Group and currently comprises 9 areas of public forest (Forestry Commission Scotland), 9 private ownerships, and a crofters common grazings.


Outdoor shelter and classroom

A local community company has leased ground within the forest and developed an outdoor shelter and classroom, used for events, training and educational activities. This site - Sgoil na Coille (forest school) - has both been supported by the SOI and forms a part of it. Numbers attending community events can reach 100 and involve many more people than those directly involved in SAC management. The facility also serves to showcase renewable and alternative technologies: electricity for lighting is provided via solar panels, and recently a composting toilet was installed. All buildings have been built using locally sourced timber - often from the site itself.


Local training initiatives

Community stakeholders have been widely engaged through a local training and skills project Sgilean na Coille (woodland skills). This follows earlier training initiatives in the area but focuses particularly on skills relating to woodland management and utilisation. It has also included a transatlantic partner in northern Italy. This project has, like the one above, facilitated engagement with large numbers of people in the community, who are not otherwise directly involved in the management of the SAC.

Photo credit: Jamie McIntyre and Malcolm Gillespie
Communication profile

Activities and products for the communication of Natura 2000


Guided visits
Other: Interpretative panels on site


  Event frequency
A few times per year


  Use of seasonal workers / volunteers


  Kind of work / volunteering opportunities
Primarily habitat management e.g. removing non-native species


  Communication literature produced

SOI does not produce litterature on Natura 2000 but partner organisations do, especially Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)


  The organisation has a dedicated communication strategy for Natura 2000


  Site involved in joint working / networking


Site management profile
"Integrating conservation management and rural development in a fragile area"
  Key site management issues:


  • Removal of non-native species, in particular non-native conifers, Rhododendron ponticum and mink
  • 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.


  Integration 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 of stakeholders.


  Key site management objectives:


  • 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.

Existing semi-natural 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.


  Stakeholders targeted as part of management action:


  • Local community groups including community councils (Acharacle, Sunart, Morvern, West Ardnamurchan, and latterly Ardgour, Community Councils);
  • Schools;
  • 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.


  Description 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 dictate.
  • Mink control has been by trapping followed by humane despatch.
  • Construction 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).
  Results of 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 skills.
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.



Financial overview
  Organisational budget for nature conservation (annual):


Of the current SOI funding package, approximately £200,000 (approx EURO 290,000) is allocated to conservation and site management (31%)


  Budget reserved for communication:


Of the current SOI funding package, approximately £160,000 (approx EURO 230,000) is allocated to communication in its various forms (24%)


  European funding:


Received to date:

  • Leader 2;
  • Leader+;
  • LIFE;


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Sunart Oakwoods Initiative Area: UK