Our Work | Species | Pine Marten

The pine marten (Martes martes) is likely to have arrived in Britain and Ireland soon after the end of the last glaciation.

 

The pine marten was once the second most common carnivore in Britain during the Mesolithic era. The clearance of woodlands, together with predator control, had a devastating effect on the pine marten population and by 1915 this species was confined to just a few of the more remote areas across Britain and Ireland. Small populations survived in Wales and the Marches and in areas of northern England, with relatively strong populations still present in parts of the Scottish Highlands.

Today, populations are expanding in number and range in Scotland and Ireland. In Wales, VWT recently carried out a pine marten population reinforcement, by translocating pine martens to mid-Wales from Scotland, resulting in the re-establishment of a viable marten population. In England, pine martens are still scarce and have a very restricted distribution. Martens are spreading from southern Scotland and naturally re-colonising parts of Northumberland and Cumbria. Elsewhere in England, pine martens have been recorded in Shropshire and Hampshire (the New Forest).

 

Our work

VWT has been studying the pine marten for more than 30 years and has published, or has contributed to, a number of research papers on the pine marten. This work has included investigating the distribution and status of the pine marten in England and Wales, documenting pine marten range expansion, developing and trialing field techniques for monitoring pine martens and more recently, carrying out a pine marten population reinforcement in Wales.

In 2011, the Trust developed a long-term Pine Marten Conservation Strategy in collaboration with other voluntary and statutory conservation bodies.

In 2014, the VWT in consultation with and support from various conservation bodies launched its Pine Marten Recovery Project. The aim of the project is to restore self-sustaining populations of pine martens to England and Wales. The initial stage of this was a feasibility study to identify areas with high habitat suitability for pine martens, which may be suitable for a pine marten reinforcement of reintroduction.

Between 2015 and 2017, the Trust carried out a pine marten population reinforcement in Wales, whereby 51 pine martens were translocated to mid-Wales from Scotland, resulting in the re-establishment of a viable marten population. All of the martens were fitted with radio-collars to monitor their movements and survival. Read our blog for insights into the project and how the pine martens are faring.

In 2017, the Trust started its Back from the Brink project, which is monitoring and paving the way for the recovery of the pine marten in northern England as the population spreads south from Scotland.

VWT is currently working with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission to reintroduce pine martens to the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. This reintroduction is planned to begin in autumn 2019.

 

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Banner photograph: Pine marten © Bill Cuthbert