- Caledonian Forest
The Caledonian Forest is the name of a type of
woodlandthat once covered vast areas of Scotland. Today, however, only 1% of the original forest survives, in 35 isolated locations. The forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife, much of which is not found elsewhere in the British Isles.
The Caledonian Forests were formed at the end of the last ice age.
Trees began to recolonise what is now the British Isles over a land bridgewhich is now beneath the English Channel. Forests of this type were found all over what is now the island of Great Britainfor a short period, before the climatebegan to slowly warm and the pinewoods retreated north into the Scottish Highlands, the last remaining climatic region suitable for them in the British Isles(see Climate of Scotland).
nativepinewoods which formed this westernmost outpost of the boreal forest of Europeare estimated to have covered 15,000 square kilometresas a vast wildernessof Scots pine, birch, rowan, aspen, juniper, oakand a few other species. On the west coast, oak and birch predominated in a temperate rainforest ecosystemrich in ferns, mosses and lichens.
The forest takes its name from the Romans, who called
Scotland" Caledonia", deriving from the early Celtic word '*caleto-' meaning 'hard, strong'. A name recorded as being used by a local tribe or tribal confederation of native Pictsor Britons called the " Caledonii" who were first recorded in a panegyric by the Roman poet Eumeniusin AD 297.
Today less than 1% of the original forest survives and the native pinewoods have been reduced to 35 isolated remnants.
Legend and folklore
Arthurianlore and early literature, the forest is the site of one of King Arthur's Twelve Battles, according to the " Historia Brittonum", in which the battle is called Cat Coit Celidon. Scholars Rachel Bromwichand Marged Haycock suggest that the army of trees animated by sorcerers in the Old Welsh poem " Cad Goddeu" ("The Battle of the Trees") are intended to be the Caledonian Forest. [Green, Thomas (2007). "Concepts of Arthur", p. 64. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus. ISBN:978-0-7524-4461-1.]
Merlinliterature, the figure of Myrddin Wylltretreated to these woods in his madness after the battle of Arfderyddin the year 573. He fled from the alleged wrath of the king of StrathclydeRhydderch Hael after the slaying of Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio. This is written in the two Merlinic poems in Middle Welsh" Yr Oinau" and " Yr Afallenau" in the Black Book of Carmarthen. The forest is also the retreat of another character named Lailokenfrom the "Vita Kentigerni", who also fled into the woods in a fit of madness and who may be the original model for Myrddin Wyllt.
Middle Welshstory " Culhwch ac Olwen", the main character Culhwchis the son of a king named Celyddon Wledigwho may or may not be related to the forest in name. Another figure from the same story, Cyledyr Wyllt hints at a close relationship of the forest being a retreat for people who suffered from a special kind of madness or "Gwyllt" ("Geilt" in Irish). In line 994 to 996 of the story, it is briefly explained, "...a Chyledyr Wyllt y uab, a llad Nwython a oruc a diot y gallon, a chymhell yssu callon y dat, ac am hynny yd aeth Kyledyr yg gwyllt" ("...and his son Kyledyr the Wild. Gwynn killed Nwython and cut out his heart, and forced Kyledyr to eat his father's heart, and that is how Kyledyr went mad"). Though not named directly, the very name Kyledyr Wyllt is close to the two related notions of the forest of Celyddonbeing where people suffering madness or "Gwyllt" hide.
Being a unique
ecosystemin the British Isles, the Caledonian Pinewoods are home to some of the country's rarest wildlife. It is considered to be one of the last remaining wildernesses in the British Isles.
Breeding bird species in Caledonian pine forests found breeding nowhere else in the British Isles:
Mammal species present in Caledonian pine forests:
Mammal species extinct in Caledonian pine forests:
Tarpan( wild horse)
Much of remaining Caledonian pine forest is fully protected, and much of the forest now lies within the
Cairngorms National Park. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds(RSPB) and the Forestry Commissionalso own several areas of pinewood on their reserves.
Trees for Life has been involved in practical work to regenerate and restore the Caledonian Forest since 1989. Its long term aim is to return an area of 1,500 square kilometres to a condition of
In recent years, there has been a growing interest to reintroduce lost animals back into Caledonian pine forests, and to this end corporations have been set up to persuade the government to let them be re-introduced. Animals with corporations backing them are:
A long running campaign to reintroduce
European Beavers to Knapdalein Argyllwas recently rejected by the Scottish Executive. [ [http://www.scotsbeavers.org/Ministerial%20Statement%20Dec%202002.html More Delays ] ] However, the argument to reintroduce Eurasian Lynxand Grey Wolfis growing.
Recently, there has also been interest over
Scottish landownerswho are planning to build large game reserves on their land and release the speciesthat are, at present, extinct. Paul Listerplans to release Eurasian Lynx, Brown Bear, Grey Wolf, Elk, Wild Boarand species already present in Scotland into a huge 200 square kilometre enclosure at his estate, Alladale, due for completion in 2009. A trial enclosure (5.5 km²) will be built this year and Elk, Wild Boar, Red Deerand Roe Deerwill be released into it this year and next.
Glenmore Forest Park
* [http://www.treesforlife.org.uk Trees for Life Site]
* [http://www.forestry.gov.uk Forestry Commission Site]
* [http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/Pinewood Forestry Commission Pinewood Site]
* [http://www.cairngorms.co.uk/ Cairngorms National Park Site]
* [http://www.highlandwildlifepark.org/ Highland Native Wildlife Park Site]
* [http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/a/abernethyforest/index.asp RSPB Abernethy Forest Reserve Site]
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