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Refertilising Wester Ross 7th, 8th & 9th April, 2016

Posted: Wednesday 9 March, 2016 @ 08:43:04

Naturally fertilised 'green knoll' where raptors perch in Beinn Eighe NNR


The aim of this meeting was to consider issues relating to nutrient management, biodiversity & restoring productive ecosystems in Wester Ross.

Should much of Wester Ross be more productive?   Was it more productive in the past?   Should we invest in reviving the ‘human’ ecosystems that other living things around us depend upon?     We’ll consider whether more could be done to restore and maintain the fertility of open ground and woodlands to produce more food for livestock and wildlife including deer and fish in the lochs and streams.


Two outdoor excursions are planned; one on either side of an indoor meeting in Gairloch:

  • Thursday 7th April. Field trip, Beinn Eighe NNR & Glen Torridon. Meet by the NNR Visitor Centre at 10am. 

Local land managers have been invited to join us:   Doug Bartholomew (Beinn Eighe NNR ); Charlie Hill (Beinn Damph Estate ); and Seamus MacNally (NTS Torridon). We’ll head up the Pony Path from near the NNR visitor centre to look at ‘green knolls’ and an area fertilised in the 1950s and consider how fertility, productivity and biodiversity (the diversity of plants and animals) are affected by wildlife management as well as by more direct human impacts.  This walk will be mostly on paths or nearby; bring warm waterproof clothing, some food and a hot drink.  Soup lunch (1pm to 2pm) at Cromasaig.  Afternoon field excursion to deer & sheep grazing areas near head of Glen Torridon. Meet at the car park opposite Loch an Iasgair at 2:30pm. We’ll cross the road and follow the path into the hills beyond the Ling Hut. We may see eagles, hungry deer, and maybe the first swallows . . . Return by 5:30pm; head for Gairloch. Get together in Gairloch for meal around 7:30pm.

  • Friday 8th April. ‘Refertilising Wester Ross’ workshop. Gairloch Community Hall, 9:45am – 5pm.   Chairman:  Prof Dave Barclay

Invited speakers include: Dr Adam Smith (Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust): nutrients in heather & moorland; Prof Davy McCracken (SRUC) what future for hill farming and crofting?;  Dr Scott Newey (The James Hutton Institute): deer carcass studies; Simon McKelvey (Cromarty Firth Fisheries Trust) stream fertility restoration trials; Dr James Merryweather (SLEF & other . . .): soil fertility and mycorrhiza; Peter Cunningham (Wester Ross Fisheries Trust): refertilising Wester Ross; participants from SNH, JMT and Crofting Federation have also been invited and are anticipated.  The meeting is during the school holidays so I’m offering £100 for a youngster from Gairloch High School and £100 for a youngster from Ullapool High School each to do a 15 minute presentation on the theme of ‘managing Wester Ross for the next generation’ or something similar.  Finalised programme with titles of talks to follow.

To help to cover the cost of hiring the hall, soup lunch, and expenses of presenters invited from afar; we’ll charge about £10 / person (under 18’s £4).

  • Saturday 9th April. Field trip, 10am – 1pm. Meet at the Sands Archaeology Trails car park (1 mile beyond Sands Caravan and Camping).

We’ll walk up on to the hill to consider issues such as how grazing pressure and muirburn can affect fertility and the production of food for livestock and wildlife, and consider the value of scrub woodland and a small patch of ancient oak woodland. Possible afternoon excursion to crofting township to review fertility of crofts.

The meeting is intended primarily for local people; it is also an opportunity to invite others to visit the Gairloch area from further afield, including youngsters interested in crofting, wildlife & / or fisheries management. There will be many opportunities for seeing and learning about local wildlife with local ‘experts’ and for learning about local management initiatives.  Everyone welcome!            

For further details please contact:    Peter Cunningham:  01445 712 899, 07786 836 003