Forestry Commission logo
NEWS RELEASE No: 1673515 AUGUST 2018


Pine marten returning to Kielder Water & Forest Park


Pine marten return to Kielder

Camera footage has confirmed pine marten in Kielder Water & Forest Park for the first time since planting in 1926. This is great news for the partnership of organisations working together for pine marten conservation in northern England, including Forestry Commission England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Aberdeen University and Vincent Wildlife Trust.

The cameras are in a remote area of Kielder Water & Forest Park as part of a red squirrel monitoring project and while many other species are frequently captured this is the first time pine marten have been spotted. The images were first seen by John Hartshorne, who manages the fieldwork and ecology education organisation Albion Outdoors and has been helping with the squirrel surveys as part of the Red Squirrels United project for several years now.

John says:

”It is very common to see wildlife other than squirrels on the cameras I use. Badgers, foxes, deer and birds of all sorts are regular visitors. This July I have caught some excellent pictures of red squirrels but also an unexpected visitor – a pine marten, sitting on top of one of the squirrel feeders. This was most unexpected but I now have both still pictures and a short piece of video firmly placing pine marten in Kielder Water & Forest Park. Historically, pine martens were commonplace but habitat clearance and persecution has led to them being eliminated from nearly all of England".

Pine martens are elusive members of the weasel family and their biggest UK stronghold is in Scotland.

Kevin O’Hara, Vincent Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Project Officer with the Back From The Brink Project, said:

“It is great news that we are starting to see further evidence of pine martens re-establishing themselves in northern England. The Vincent Wildlife Trust has been heading a species recovery programme for pine marten in Britain for many years. It’s fantastic to be part of such a varied group of organisations that are working towards the successful re-colonisation of northern England”

Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist added:

“As the forest nears 100 years in age, it is increasingly being colonised by rare and protected species. Pine marten returning to England, over the Scottish border, have been anticipated for some time, encouraged by the efforts we are making to create ecologically diverse forests. We are delighted to see photographic evidence of their return, in a forest valued by so many people”

Ongoing studies in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen will provide evidence on how pine marten influence other species in Kielder Water & Forest Park, which have themselves previously colonised the maturing woodland. Recent research carried out by Aberdeen University found that in Scotland, areas where pine martens were increasing, red squirrels also increased, but grey squirrel numbers plummeted drastically. This could have huge implications for organisations involved with trying to conserve reds in the UK and across Europe. 

Simon O’Hare, Project Manager for Red Squirrels Northern England at Northumberland Wildlife Trust continues:

“It is well documented that grey squirrels out-compete red squirrels for food and also pass on a deadly virus, squirrel pox, to reds: this is one of the main reasons that the species in under threat. The natural return of pine martens in areas of northern England is an exciting prospect, as it could have a knock on effect by suppressing grey numbers, allowing native red squirrels to prosper once again in our woodlands”  

Mike Pratt, Chief Executive, Northumberland Wildlife Trust adds:

“We are very excited that pine martens have been seen around the Kielder area. As a natural predator they have the potential to help manage the grey squirrels and they are a part of our woodland and forestry ecosystem so we need them here. They will also be great from a nature tourism perspective. We look forward to working with Forestry Commission England and the Vincent Wildlife Trust to help them establish a colony over time.”

Being an important red squirrel reserve, partners at Kielder Water & Forest Park are very excited to welcome the pine marten into their woodlands.

Ends

Notes to Editor

1.The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission http://www.forestry.gov.uk/englandsforests

2. Kielder Water & Forest Park spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was awarded the number one tourism experience in England by Visit England 2013, and the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Together with Northumberland National Park, it was granted gold tier Dark Sky Park status in December 2013. For more information see www.visitkielder.com.

3. Northumberland Wildlife Trust is the largest environmental charity in the

region working to safeguard native wildlife. One of 47 Wildlife Trusts across the UK, Northumberland Wildlife Trust has campaigned for nature conservation for over 40 years. It aims to inform, educate and involve people of all ages and backgrounds in protecting their environment in favour of wildlife and conservation.

Supported by over 13,000 individual and 100 corporate members in the region, Northumberland Wildlife Trust manages and protects critical species and habitats at over 60 nature reserves throughout Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland. Northumberland Wildlife Trust have been involved with red squirrel conservation since the early 1990s. They manage the Red Squirrels Northern England project www.rsne.org.uk and are also a lead partner in the Red Squirrels United project www.redsquirrelsunited.org.uk

4. Established in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is the fifth oldest in the UK and is consistently ranked in the top 200 of the world’s universities. The University is renowned for its world-leading research in environmental and biological sciences health, energy and food and nutrition. A total of 76% of Aberdeen’s research was judged ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ through the UK's most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).

5. The Vincent Wildlife Trust is a national charity engaged in innovative mammal research and conservation. It has spent over 30 years carrying out pine marten research and recently carried out a translocation of pine martens from Scotland to Wales where the pine marten was all but extinct. Read more at: www.vwt.org.uk and www.pine-marten-recovery-project.org.uk

VWT’s Kevin O’Hara works with the Back from the Brink project

Back from the Brink is one of the most ambitious conservation projects ever undertaken. With 19 projects spanning England - 20 UK species facing extinction will be brought back from the brink, thanks to players of the National Lottery.

The project is the first nationwide coordinated effort to bring a wide range of leading charities and conservation bodies together to save threatened species.

To find out more about Back from the Brink and the species it aims to help, visit: naturebftb.co.uk

6. Media Contact: Tom Dearnley 07968 213997 tom.dearnley@forestryengland.uk