Abernethy Forest

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Abernethy Forest National Nature Reserve
IUCN category II (national park)
An aerial view south over Abernethy National Nature Reserve. ©P&A Macdonald/SNH
Map showing the location of Abernethy Forest National Nature Reserve
Map showing the location of Abernethy Forest National Nature Reserve
Location Strathspey, Highland, Scotland
Coordinates 57°15′N 3°38′W / 57.250°N 3.633°W / 57.250; -3.633Coordinates: 57°15′N 3°38′W / 57.250°N 3.633°W / 57.250; -3.633
Area 12,754 hectares
Governing body Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), RSPB
Abernethy Forest
regeneration in the northern forest
regeneration in the southern forest

Abernethy Forest is a remnant of the Caledonian Forest in Strathspey, in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is an RSPB reserve, close to Loch Garten Osprey Centre, which is also owned by the RSPB. There is approximately 4,000 hectares of forest within the reserve, and just under half of this is native caledonian pine forest. Abernethy Forest is the largest remaining remnant of the Ancient Caledonian Forest in Scotland.

The forest is home to a variety of birds and mammals, including Scottish crossbill, red squirrel, wildcat, red deer, black grouse, crested tit and osprey. There is also a capercaillie lek.

Abernethy Forest is in the Cairngorms National Park. Nearby villages include Nethy Bridge to the north, Boat of Garten to the west, and Aviemore to the south-west.


Abernethy Forest includes several designated areas, including:


The RSPB have a history of intervention on their reserve within the Abernethy Forest. On 19 October 2006, the RSPB began using explosives to blast off the crowns of nine Caledonian pine trees, between 100 and 200 years old.[3] Referring to this use of explosives, Desmond Dugan, RSPB Site Manager at the Forest Lodge said:[4]

"Explosives may seem extreme but the effect will be no less catastrophic than a wind snapped, lightning struck or avalanched tree"

James Reynolds, RSPB Head of Media and Communications said:[5]

"We've been simply felling trees and trying to create dead wood habitats in that way before, but we don't think it allowed the process to get going quickly enough"

On 24 August 2011 the RSPB received consent from the Forestry Commission to expand native woodland through natural regeneration and planting.

Since they received consent from the Forestry Commission, the RSPB began planting 60,000 aspen, birch, juniper and willow trees within the approximately 590 hectares of their Plantation.

Abernethy National Nature Reserve[edit]

Abernethy National Nature Reserve (NNR) lies to the south of the village of Nethybridge, 9 miles northeast of Aviemore in Badenoch and Strathspey. Situated within the Cairngorms National Park, Abernethy NNR extends 12,754 hectares, encompassing the majority of Abernethy Forest and the adjoining landscape. The Dell Woods section of Abernethy NNR is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), while the rest is under the management of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The Dell Woods section was declared in 1988, a 375 hectare extension to the existing Abernethy Forest NNR. In 2007, the NNR was greatly extended again, becoming the new Abernethy National Nature Reserve.

The Reserve is popular with walkers, as there are various trails throughout the Reserve, as well as an Osprey Centre at Loch Garten, run by the RSPB.

Over 200 vascular plant species have been recorded at Abernethy NNR, including some nationally-scarce species like twinflower and creeping lady's tresses. Heath cudweed is also present in the Reserve, classed as an endangered species.[6]

Abernethy NNR also supports a diverse population of birds, with over 70 species recorded at the Reserve. These include the Scottish crossbill, crested tit and capercaillie, which are all relatively rare species in Britain. Other birds present at the Reserve include buzzards, tawny owls, great spotted woodpeckers and sparrowhawks.

A variety of mammals have also been recorded at the Reserve, including red and roe deer; red squirrels; common pipistrelles; more elusive otters and pine martens; and possible sightings of wildcats.[7]

SNH has reported fourteen species of butterfly at the Reserve, including the pearl-bordered fritillary, a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species.[8] More information about the flora and fauna of Abernethy NNR, as well as the management practices, can be found in SNH's publication, The Story of Abernethy National Nature Reserve.

Abernethy NNR is classified as a Category II protected area by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.[9]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]