A new era of pine marten conservation in Britain has begun.
Thanks to funding from The National Lottery, a four-year Martens on the Move project will begin in January 2024.
Although the species has been slowly recovering naturally in Ireland and in northern and central Scotland, reintroduction programmes have been needed to help the species become re-established in Wales and England, and small-scale translocations have helped the species to re-colonise southern Scotland, which means that, once again, breeding pine marten populations are now present in Britain and Ireland.
However, these new populations are still small and isolated, and they need the support of local communities to ensure their long-term survival and range expansion across the counties.
What is Martens on the Move?
Martens on the Move is not a pine marten reintroduction project, but rather a project to increase knowledge and understanding about pine martens and to improve habitats for pine martens expanding into new areas, so that they have more chance to thrive in these locations.
VWT is aiming to achieve this goal through its Martens on the Move project, which will focus on natural recovery of pine marten populations through community action. VWT secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to spend a year developing this project and it aims to deliver pine marten conservation across the Scottish/English border counties, the counties of the Welsh Marches and strategic areas for pine marten range expansion in mid and southern Wales.
Martens on the Move aims to bring together conservation organisations, landowners, volunteers, and communities from Scotland, England and Wales to work collectively to help pine martens to thrive and expand their ranges by creating Pine Marten Havens and by establishing a National Den Box Monitoring Programme.
Pine Marten Havens
Pine martens require diverse and resilient ecosystems to sustain their populations and our hope is that Pine Marten Havens will become best-practice demonstration sites for other land managers across Britain. Each Haven will also help stimulate ecotourism and inform and educate visitors about the return of this native carnivore through accessible wildlife viewing hides and interpretation trails.
During the Development Phase (2022-2023), we set up partnerships with Forestry and Land Scotland, with the National Trust and with The Woodland Trust to find sites and develop plans to create a Pine Marten Haven in each of the three countries.
These accessible green space sites will demonstrate how land can be transformed into ‘Havens’ for pine martens with suitable food and shelter resources. In collaboration with our project partners, each site will be improved through:
Location of the Pine Marten Havens
Scotland: Kirroughtree Visitor Centre in partnership with Forestry and Land Scotland
Wales: Wentwood Forest in partnership with Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales
England: Wallington in partnership with The National Trust
National Den Box Monitoring Programme
VWT is also aiming to establish a long-term National Den Box Monitoring Programme and six Monitoring Hubs will form its foundation, working in collaboration with a suite of local and national organisations. Each Monitoring Hub will contain 30-50 den boxes that will be installed across multiple landholdings and monitored annually by volunteers using trail cameras. We have been delighted with the positive response that we have had from organisations, landowners and communities across our Monitoring Hub areas during the Development Phase of Martens on the Move — and we have been greatly encouraged, knowing that the returning pine martens will be welcomed and supported by many.
During the second half of the Development Phase, we trialled a range of activities, including:
We look forward to working with a variety of community groups, regional and national conservation NGOs, statutory bodies, the forestry sector, private landowners and volunteers through a range of activities, including tree planting and habitat improvement, den box building, den box monitoring, and developing further educational resources.
If you are interested in being involved in this exciting project, please contact VWT through email@example.com