An ambitious plan to reconnect two ancient Caledonian pine forests in the heart of the Cairngorms is one of six conservation projects competing for funding. The project to restore the Caledonian forest at Abernethy has reached the shortlist of this year’s European Outdoor Conservation Association funding awards. Public votes will decide which of the six proposals in the Outdoor category will receive funding. Last year, the John Muir Trust’s project to repair the footpath in the Steall Gorge in Glen Nevis was the successful winner, receiving £25,000, and the RSPB is hoping that support from outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists will help them win this year’s vote.
The project plans to reconnect two existing areas of pine forest in Abernethy, north of Aviemore, which will benefit a wide variety of woodland species. The RSPB says, “The Caledonian forest was once widespread in Scotland yet today only 1% remains. Abernethy RSPB reserve is the UK’s largest remnant of Caledonian forest stretching for 53 square miles in the spectacular Cairngorm National Park. It is home to 4500 species, 20% of which are nationally rare, including capercaillie, Scottish wildcat and red squirrels. This reserve has around 100,000 visitors a year who enjoy the walking, quiet recreation, spectacular landscapes and exciting and wildlife opportunities. This project will focus on re-connecting Abernethy to its neighbouring Caledonian forest, Glenmore, through the planting of 30,000 native trees to re-establish a huge wildlife corridor that can support more rare wildlife.”
Other projects also hoping for success this year include plans to build mountain bike trails and encourage sustainable tourism in Romania, a project to protec the 4,000km Makay massif in Madagascar, the restoration of mountain bike routes in the Netherlands which have been damaged by fire, and the protection of old-growth forest in Sweden.
Voting is open until 28 March, to cast your vote and for details of the other projects in the running see the EOCA website. If you want to walk the pass which links the two areas of Caledonian forest, check out the Ryvoan Pass route on Walkhighlands.