Morvern Undiscovered

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Conifer Woodlands



Coniferous Woodlands

In Morvern there are no natural coniferous woodlands; all have been planted by the Forestry Commission and private landowners. Although there has been limited increases in new plantations over the last couple of decades. it is noted that the future for commercial forestry looks to increase, with Morvern highlighted as providing good opportunities. It is of particular interest that since the early days of commercial planting by the Forestry Commission the whole ethos and strategy for managing such sites has changed. Modern guidelines and practices now take full account of the landscape, visual impact as well as conservation issues and importantly the needs of the community. As a consequence it is clear that in the future there will be an increasing link between forestry, tourism and agriculture as well as other land based industry that may develop.

The main areas of Morvern where coniferous woodlands are prominent is the South West area, South of Loch Teacuis and West of Lochaline; where separate provision has been made for transportation of timber at Lochaline through a dedicated pier and access road. The most popular trees being used on Morvern are Sitka Spruce, Larch or Lodgepole Pine all of them are non native species.

Morvern's conifer woodlands provide a habitat for a broad range of wildlife. Goldcrest and Coal Tits flitter in the trees, accompanied occasionally by a Spotted Flycatcher. Siskins can be heard flying in groups and feeding on the cones, Wrens proclaim their territory and Buzzards soar overhead. In winter migratory Woodcocks and other birds seek shelter in these woodlands.

In the trees Red and Roe Deer forage and leave their mark on the trees; through rubbings and gnawing the bark. Fox and Pine Martins use the forest tracks as their own highway and any prominent rock is usually sprayed or droppings left as a territory marker. Other vegetation also thrives, with flowers and mushrooms specialising in these acidic conditions.

Conifers are older evolutionary than broadleaved trees and there are three distinct differences: The most popular method of identifying a conifer in this country is by its resinous leaves, which are good at withstanding cold winds and bright sunlight. Pines have slender waxy needles arranged singularly or in doubles, some have linear leaves or flat scales and a few including the Larch are deciduous which sheds iits leaves in autumn. Another distinction is that Conifers do not produce flowers and pollen, unlike Broadleaved trees, Conifers produce seeds within a cone.

Conifers are some of the smallest, largest and oldest living woody plants known; they produce what is called softwood timber which refers to the fact that the whole trunk is alive, in Deciduous trees it is only the outer layers of the trunk that are alive, the middle section is dead timber; these trees are referred to as hardwood. Scotland holds the record for the oldest Yew tree (conifer) in Europe; the Fortingall Yew. Various estimates have put its age at between 2,000 and 5,000 years; recent research into yew tree ages suggests that it is likely to be nearer the lower limit of 2,000 years; however this still makes it the oldest known tree in Europe. There are more than 500 conifer species distributed worldwide.


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