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news > Community action for a rare woodland mammal begins thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund

23rd April 2024

Thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Martens on the Move Team has launched into action for pine martens and people across Britain. Led by Dr Stephanie Johnstone as Project Manager, the team includes Victoria Chanin (Project Officer for the Scottish/English borders), Lucy Nord (Project Officer for the Welsh/English borders) and Rowie Burcham (Communication and Engagement Officer). They are collaborating with local communities, regional and national conservation NGOs, statutory bodies, the forestry sector, public and private landowners, and volunteers to support and promote the natural recovery of pine martens across ten counties of the Scottish/English and Welsh/English Borders.

Although once widespread, pine martens were almost extinct in Britain by the beginning of the 20th century — but thanks to the work of organisations like Forestry and Land Scotland, populations have slowly made a comeback in parts of Scotland. This success has more recently been repeated in parts of England and Wales thanks to VWT’s successful Pine Marten Recovery Project and its partnership work on Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Project.

Over the next four years, the Martens on the Move team will work with communities to improve habitat for pine martens, recruit and train volunteers to monitor pine martens as they move into new areas and provide opportunities for a diverse range of community groups, landowners and organisations to find out more about the species and opportunities to play a role in its recovery.

The Houghton Project in Herefordshire is one of the community groups taking part by building pine marten den boxes. Following a den box making workshop delivered by the Martens on the Move Team on 16 April for The Houghton Project, the community group will make den boxes to be installed in local woodlands as homes for pine martens to shelter and raise their young. Karen Mcindoe from The Houghton Project said: “We are so excited to be working with Vincent Wildlife Trust. It’s such a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and contribute to this fantastic Martens on the Move project.

The Houghton Project with the first of their pine marten den boxes.

In other project areas, pine marten den boxes will be built in partnership with local Men’s Sheds. Rowie Burcham, Martens on the Move Communications and Engagement Officer said: “The Martens on the Move project is about community action and creating den boxes for pine martens not only supports the range expansion of this important species but also the individuals volunteering, as they will gain new skills or develop existing ones and also experience the physical and mental health benefits of actively volunteering. It’s been a fantastic experience seeing organisations such as the Llangadog, Llandeilo and Llandovery Men’s Shed and the Houghton Project embracing this project and we hope this is just the beginning of our collaboration with these and other organisations.”

Members of Llandeilo, Llangadog and Llandovery Men’s Shed work on their first pine marten den box.

Martens on the Move will also be working with three national partners to develop Pine Marten Havens where the public can learn more about the species and local community groups can get involved in work to improve the surrounding habitats to help pine martens thrive. These Havens will be at Kirroughtree, Galloway Forest in Dumfries and Galloway, owned and managed by Forestry and Land Scotland; Wentwood in Monmouthshire, owned and managed by Coed Cadw, The Woodland Trust in Wales; and Wallington in Northumberland, owned and managed by National Trust.

Dr Stephanie Johnstone, Martens on the Move Project Manager, said, “We are so excited to be working in collaboration with our three Pine Marten Haven partners. Having these sites as part of the project means that we will be able to offer so many more opportunities for people to learn about pine martens and how they can help ensure their recovery into their former ranges. There will also be opportunities for local community groups to get involved in hands-on habitat improvement work and monitoring in this joined up approach to pine marten conservation.

Pine marten ©Jason Hornblow


In addition, Martens on the Move will be working with local and national organisations, including Forestry and Land Scotland, Natural Resources Wales and Forestry England, to set up monitoring hubs in each nation. Den boxes will be installed and monitored by volunteers and community groups and the information gathered will feed into a new National Pine Marten Monitoring Programme, that will also be developed through Martens on the Move. Working with professional and volunteer pine marten enthusiasts, this new monitoring scheme will gather and collate data that will allow conservation managers to have a Britain-wide understanding of the species recovery. This knowledge will allow conservation activities and resources to be prioritised where and how they will be most effective to support the recovery of pine martens across the three nations.

The Martens on the Move project has been made possible by players of the National Lottery and we are grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for this opportunity.

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