Eadha has now commenced an innovative woodland establishment trial at the former Glentaggart Opencast Coal Site (OCCS) thanks to funding from the Brown Forbes Memorial Trust and the owner Douglas and Angus Estate.
We will be establishing 3 hectares of pioneer woodland comprising an assemblage of rare native species including montane (mountain) willows, aspen which is listed in the South Lanarkshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) and a selection of hybrid willows which are natural colonizing other mine sites.
An aspen clone trial will be laid out in replicated blocks comprising the full set of fifty Galloway and Southern Ayrshire clones originally collected by Eadha for Forest Enterprise. The purpose of the trial will be to identify which clones are best suited to these challenging ground conditions.
There will be no fencing or tree guards as these are both costly and impractical given the ground conditions. We will therefore be testing innovative methods of deer protection including clump planting and using thorny scrub and sacrificial species to protect more palatable species.
Other research elements include the trial addition of mycorrhizal fungi to the soil from a range of sources which may benefit tree establishment.
The proposed planting will have wider environmental benefits, with a likely positive impact on a remnant black grouse population by creating a buffer scrub area between an adjacent conifer plantation and open grassland areas.
While Eadha proposes to use the site as a field trial, ultimately we will be creating a biodiversity rich scrub and woodland habitat with a unique assemblage of rare species transforming the local landscape and providing recreational and educational opportunities in the long term for local people. The site will also represent an important demonstration project and learning exercise for other mine restoration sites and forms part of our wider initiative to initiate landscape scale ecological restoration and reforestation across the coalfields (see https://is.gd/dfZ5Ow)
Eadha is engaging with the local communities of Muirkirk and Douglas as well as with groups and individuals from the wider region to maximise public involvement in this project. We are actively seeking volunteers to become involved and to help with some of the planting. We would also be keen to hear from any academic institutions who may be interested in using the site as a research resource.
If you are interested in being involved please contact us