Caledonian Forest

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Caledonian Forest above the Allt Ruadh

The Caledonian Forest is a type of woodland that once covered vast areas of Scotland. Today, parts of the original forest survive, covering 180 square kilometres (44,000 acres) in 84 places.[1] The forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife, much of which is not found elsewhere in the British Isles.

History[change | change source]

The Caledonian Forests were formed at the end of the last ice age. Trees began to recolonise what is now the British Isles over a land bridge which is now beneath the English Channel. Forests of this type were found all over what is now the island of Great Britain for a short period. Then the climate began to warm and the pinewoods retreated north into the Scottish Highlands. The Highlands are the last remaining climatic region suitable for them in the British Isles.

Caledonian Pinewoods near Loch an Eilein

The native pinewoods which formed this westernmost outpost of the boreal forest of Europe are estimated to have covered 15,000 km2 (3,700,000 acres) as a vast wilderness of Scots pine, birch, rowan, aspen, juniper, oak and a few other species. On the west coast, oak and birch predominated in a temperate rainforest ecosystem rich in ferns, mosses and lichens.

The forest takes its name from the Romans, who called Scotland Caledonia, from the early Celtic word '*caleto-' meaning 'hard, strong'. The name was used by a local tribe or tribal confederation of native Picts or Britons called the Caledonii.

Today less than 1% of the original native pinewood forest survives, in isolated remnants.

Wildlife[change | change source]

Capercaillie - a species which depends on the Caledonian Forest

A unique ecosystem in the British Isles, the Caledonian Pinewoods are home to some of the country's rarest wildlife. It is one of the last remaining wildernesses in the British Isles.

Breeding bird species in Caledonian pine forests which breed nowhere else in the British Isles:

Breeding bird species in Caledonian pine forests rare elsewhere in the British Isles:

Mammal species present in Caledonian pine forests:

Red Deer in Caledonian pinewood

References[change | change source]

  1. "Caledonian pinewood". Forestry Commission. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  2. The Scottish Beaver Network (viewed June 11th 2009)