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Trees and plants at Loch Arkaig

The site contains a gradation of forest types from oak, hazel and alder near the loch through to birch and then Scots pine at the higher altitudes. Other native species include juniper, aspen and rowan.

Many pollarded (pruned at the crown) trees, such as holly, alder, ash, birch and oak, indicate that the wood was well used by tenant farmers during the 18th century –
the trees were cut to provide animal fodder.

There are also many ancient, wide-crowned ‘granny’ pines, which were probably left by foresters as their bent branches would have been harder to use as timber. Bleached white Scots pine skeletons are the result of fire damage, some natural and some dating from when the site was used for commando training during World War II. This standing deadwood provides habitats for fungi, lichens, mosses, invertebrates and birds.

Mosses and lichens include rare and localised species such as ostrich plume moss, a native pine and birch wood indicator, and lungwort, which has large lobes that look like cabbage leaves.

It is certain that there are many more important and rare species yet to be recorded on the site, especially in the inaccessible western block.