Innovative Wild Boar Restoration Project Launches In The Highlands

Moray, United Kingdom (PressExposure) November 26, 2009 -- Award-winning conservation charity Trees for Life will today (Thursday November 26th 2009) launch an innovative forest restoration project with the arrival of wild boar in a special woodland enclosure on its Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston, Inverness-shire.

Six wild boar – donated by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig near Kingussie – will be used to reduce bracken in an area of ancient birchwood on the estate, restoring a missing ecological process and facilitating the regeneration of native trees and woodland flowering plants.

Alan Watson Featherstone, Executive Director of Trees for Life, said: “Wild boar are an integral part of the Caledonian Forest, and their presence is crucial to the ecological health and balance of a natural woodland. We are very excited to be bringing them to Dundreggan, as they will play a key role in the restoration of the forest there.”

Trees for Life will build on the experience of the 2004-2007 Guisachan Wild Boar Project based on the edge of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve. That project, in which the charity was a partner, demonstrated the importance of wild boar in forest ecosystems.

Ecologist Liz Balharry, who coordinated the Guisachan Wild Boar Project and is advising Trees for Life, said: “Wild boar are outstanding ecological engineers. Their return to Dundreggan will utilise the knowledge gained by my project and is exciting news for forest restoration in Scotland.”

The ancient birchwood on Dundreggan, like many woodlands in the Highlands, contains an excessive growth of bracken, which shades out flowering plants, inhibiting the regeneration of trees and creating a dense and impenetrable understorey.

Bracken grows rapidly through underground runners called rhizomes. Because its fronds are toxic to most animals, it is often ungrazed and so spreads unchecked. Boar provide a natural control by eating both the rhizomes and fronds. By rooting and exposing the soil, they also create an excellent seedbed for the germination of trees and other woodland plants.

The project will focus on a 12.3 hectare (30.4 acre) area, with the boar confined inside a secure enclosure. Volunteers on Trees for Life’s Conservation Volunteer Weeks will help to monitor the boar’s effectiveness in reducing bracken, and the project will form part of an educational experience for visitors, including school groups.

People can support Trees for Life’s restoration of the Caledonian Forest – of which only 1% survives – by purchasing dedicated trees and groves or by joining its Conservation Volunteer Weeks. For details, see http://www.treesforlife.org.uk or call 0845 458 3505.

Background – about wild boar • The wild boar is the ancestor of domestic pigs and is a surprisingly shy and gentle animal, which generally avoids humans. Its fierce reputation is largely undeserved, although like many animals it can be formidable if cornered. The wild boar has come to symbolise courage in many cultures. • Formerly native to the UK, it was hunted to extinction, probably by the 13th century. Unsuccessful attempts at reintroduction were made in the 17th century. • Escapes of captive wild boar have occurred since the 1970s. As a result there are now free living populations of wild boar in Kent, Sussex and Devon.

Ends Notes to editors 1. Trees for Life aims to restore the Caledonian Forest to an area of 1,500 square kilometres in the Scottish Highlands, west of Inverness. 2. Since planting its first trees in 1991 in Glen Affric, Trees for Life has planted over 800,000 trees. Its awards include 1991 UK Conservation Project of the Year, the Millennium Marque in 2000 and Top 10 Conservation Holidays worldwide in 2009. 3. The Wild Boar Project at Dundreggan has been funded by donations from Trees for Life members and supporters, and a grant from the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP). It is being run under the terms of a licence approved by Highland Council. 4. The Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie was opened in 1972. Along with Edinburgh Zoo, it is run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. See http://www.highlandwildlifepark.org

About Trees for Life

Trees for Life
http://www.treesforlife.org.uk

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Press Release Submitted On: November 26, 2009 at 5:29 am
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