Innovative mammal conservation

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Species Recovery Programmes > Carnivore Projects > Back from the Brink: the pine marten (northern England) species recovery project

25th May 2017

The Back from the Brink pine marten project (2017-2020)

This project was one of several species recovery projects within Back from the Brink; a partnership of conservation organisations working to save England’s most endangered species, thanks to funding from the National Lottery. 

Photo: Pine marten ©Robert Cruickshanks

Pine martens were once common and widespread across Britain, but declined during the 18th and 19th centuries and are now rare in England. As the pine marten population in Scotland recovers and expands its range, pine martens have started to re-colonise parts of Northumberland and Cumbria.

The aim of the Back from the Brink project was to facilitate and monitor the natural recovery of pine martens in northern England, where they are re-colonising by spreading south over the Scottish border, and to develop a better understanding of their status and distribution in this region.

During the project, surveying and monitoring was carried out in selected forests to detect pine martens and gather data on their distribution, using methods such as camera traps. Volunteers, landowners and other organisations were heavily involved in this survey work. Pine marten den boxes (artificial boxes that replicate natural den sites for resting and breeding) have been installed to increase the availability of optimal den sites for martens to rest and breed in. These were monitored for evidence of use throughout the project. The information gathered has confirmed that there is a small pine marten population present in northern Northumberland and Cumbria and has enabled a better understanding of its distribution and status. It will also contribute to a wider national recovery plan for pine martens. Whilst the pine marten population is in the early stages of re-establishment in northern England, thanks to the collaboration of local communities and landowners, the pine marten now has a stronger chance of recovery in this area.

You can watch a summary of the project in this video.


Find out more about the project by reading these resources:

How can I help?

Although this project has officially come to an end, we are still keen to receive records of pine martens in northern England (whether camera trap images/videos or sightings). Please report any sightings here.

3-4 Bronsil Courtyard, Eastnor, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1EP
01531 636441 |