Action For Mountain Woodlands
The Action for Mountain Woodlands(AMWood) project is co-ordinated by Highland Birchwoods and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This project involved the restoration of montane woodland species to seven upland sites across Scotland including Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. With additional financial support from Scottish Natural Heritage and Hunterston Estates, a 17 hectare fenced enclosure was erected around the Cample Burn, located in the hills above the Muirshiel Visitor Centre, near Lochwinnoch. The site lies within a Special Protection Area (SPA) for Hen Harriers.
Initially the focus of the project was to restore juniper scrub. Since the 1960s the total amount of Juniper in Britain has declined by more than half and it is now a species of conservation concern. Juniper appears to have been greatly reduced through muirburn for grouse management and by over-grazing by sheep. In the Regional Park there are only six juniper plants remaining, two of which are female. Birds such as stonechat and wren nest in Juniper bushes and it also provides winter cover for black grouse. The berries are eaten mainly by thrushes and this helps to spread the seed.
Park staff have collected Juniper cuttings which have then been propagated and planted out by volunteers including Eadha Enterprises at the Cample Burn. Cuttings were propagated with the help of Lochwinnoch Community Garden, and Eadha Enterprises are now taking this on on a longer term Juniper does grow better from seed, but only occasionally have berries been found within the Regional Park. However, following advice from Forest Research around 1000 seeds have been collected form a site near Peebles that has similar environmental conditions to the Cample Burn.
On the back of the juniper work Eadha Enterprises identified the need to conserve local aspen as there was even lower numbers remaining in the park (4 trees). Eadha Enterprises supplied 30 aspen trees from a collection of 5 clones including local clones and clones from Ayrshire growing in a similar upland site. Eadha Enterprises will be monitoring the aspen growth over a number of years to compare the relative performance of different clones. Together the aspen and juniper should recreate a rare and valuable habitat which will contribute to an integrated land management plan aimed at benefiting the internationally important population of hen harriers.