Glentaggart Opencast Mine Woodland Project
Eadha's first project under Growing Green Energy Phase 2 is the Glentaggart Opencast Mine Woodland Project. Funding from the Brown Forbes Memorial Trust and the landowner Douglas and Angus Estates have enabled a total of 4 Ha of pioneer woodland to be planted.
Glentaggart OCCS lies in a strategic location at the heart of the East Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire coalfield. The site is located only 10 minutes from the M74 and half an hour from the Glasgow area, so despite being located in a relatively remote area, is readily accessible to a large population. This makes the site ideally suited to being a pilot for our bigger vision. We intend to use the site as a strategic demonstration project trialing a range of innovative woodland establishment techniques, and an education resource hosting organized group visits.
We have planted a unique assemblage of native pioneer species including cuttings of native willows sourced and collected by us, including some rare and montane species (downy, dark leaved, tea-leaved, creeping, mountain, woolly, grey and goat willow and osier), our stock of aspen which is listed in the South Lanarkshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) and a selection of hybrid willows which are naturally colonizing other mine sites (mine-adapted trees). We also planted downy birch, alder, hawthorn, gorse, blackthorn, bramble, and wild raspberry.
The aspen comprised of 50 clones from Galloway and Arran which were planted in labelled clonal blocks to test if there is any clonal variation in survival and growth rates.
We laid out replicated planting blocks to trial different species mixes and planting densities. We have also experimented with natural protection techniques precluding the need for fencing or tree guards. These are both costly and impractical given the ground conditions. For example we have employed clump planting where the trees are planted in dense clusters sometimes with less palatable or sacrificial species such as alder, thorny species or osiers surrounding palatable species such as aspen.
Two of the three planting areas comprised of unimproved subsoil composed of mine waste while the third had had the addition of sewage sludge which has been incorporated across a large proportion of the mine.
In the two unimproved areas we experimented with the addition of mycorrhizal fungi with the application of two off the shelf products as well as some forest soil to compare effectiveness in promoting tree growth.
We also undertook some direct seeding trials using gorse cuttings and broom seed.
We will be monitoring the trial plots (survival and growth rates) over the next 3 years. To date we are encouraged by the growth with the unimproved sites performing better due to the absence of competing surface vegetation and lower browsing pressure.
- Restoration of 4 Ha of former mine land
- New native woodland and scrub established for local community
- Biodiversity sink for rare and threatened species
- A unique assemblage of trees
- Potential of 45 Ha of new woodland through enhanced natural regeneration
- Improved habitat for local threatened Black Grouse
- Catalyst for increased public access to a no-go area.
- Creation of an environmental education resource
- Skills training for local unemployed young people
- Field trial to further understanding of low input landscaping of opencast mine sites with wide application across Coalfields area
We recruited the help of a number of volunteers for planting including the Coalfields Environment Initiative and the Maryhill Integrated Network (refugees).