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Tree cheers for RSPB

Abernethy Forest near Grantown-on-Spey is one of Scotland's woodland gems.

Teeming with wildlife and scented with the spicy fragrance of pine, it offers visitors the opportunity to experience what much of Scotland must have looked, felt and smelled like in centuries gone by.

The difficulty facing conservation-ists has long been to turn remnants of Caledonian forest into the blankets of rich habitat they once were, but the RSPB's new project at Abernethy will tackle this. While Scots pine in the area has spread successfully through self-seeding, important shrub and broad leaved tree species that are also a crucial component of the forest need some help. The planting of 100,000 trees, by a team of volunteers including schoolchildren, will help ensure that the forest spreads and becomes self-sustaining. Even if 40,000 of the trees survive grazing pressure from hares and other animals, it will have a transformative effect.

It is one of the gentle ironies of conservation that restoring forests to their wild state of years gone by requires such careful management, but projects such as this will pay dividends to wildlife, ecology and visitors for generations to come.

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Hobbies and general interest

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