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Urgent call to save UK wildlife icons.

Loch Mallachie. Credit: Peter Cairns/Northshots

Loch Mallachie. Credit: Peter Cairns/Northshots

An urgent call to save some of the UK’s most iconic species has been made with the publication of a new book, Caledonia – Scotland’s Heart of Pine.

The new book focuses on the need to nurture and expand the country’s wild forests in order for the population of pure red deer not to face extinction within the next 50 years; so that Britain’s rarest mammal – the wildcat – increases in number from the present, incredibly low figure of 400; and in order to save the capercaillie – the world’s largest grouse and Britain’s fastest declining bird (with just over 1,000 left).

With only 1% of Scotland’s wild forest left, authors Peter Cairns and Niall Benvie are calling for immediate action to begin to conserve and expand the country’s pinewoods in order to save these inspirational species as well as the red squirrel, pine marten, crested tit, osprey and golden eagle.

Wild Scotland member, Peter Cairns explains “Reconnecting native forests at a landscape scale really does offer the best possibility to prevent extinction of these emblematic species. Scotland is incredibly privileged to be home to an array of majestic mammals and beautiful birds, but these species are simply part of a complex jigsaw, a jigsaw that urgently needs putting back together. At the moment Scotland’s forests are like an engine running without oil. It is vital that we act now. This tiny 1% of original wildwood that does remain is basically made up of scattered, fragmented islands that are too small and isolated to function, as they should. A revitalised, re-connected, even rewilded forest, is something that we can all benefit from.”

Caledonia, which has been published to coincide with the UN International Year of Forests and has a foreword by IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre, combines powerful and evocative imagery of Scotland’s forests, wildlife and landscapes by Peter Cairns with insightful and inspiring essays by Niall Benvie.

The flagship book showcases the beauty of the Caledonian forest and promotes the concept of forest rewilding and all the social, cultural, ecological and economic benefits this could bring.

The book contains detailed, yet digestible and interesting accounts of the turbulent history of forest cover in Scotland and charts humans’ relationship with the Wildwood and its indigenous creatures. It also contains case study interviews with land managers already overseeing landscape scale native forest restoration, as well as a well-researched reference list for further information.

Caledonia is a celebration of this unique and vulnerable forest and the species within it, but it is also a reminder to us all – including those responsible for what Scotland’s landscape will look like 100 years from now – that we must begin to act now if we are to change the outlook for the future of these fascinating creatures.

To order ‘Caledonia – Scotland’s Heart of Pine’ by Niall Benvie & Peter Cairns go to
Hardback original. Price £20.00.

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