James H C Fenton ECOLOGIST www.fenton.scot
48-page full colour A5 booklet 108 photos REPRINTED JULY 2016 with minor revisions £5 Contact ecology@fenton.scot First published April 2011 Author: James Fenton
Towards a New Paradigm for the Ecology of Northern & Western Scotland OLD PARADIGM The current landscape consists of degraded ecosystems, largely through past and present human action. Hence ‘habitat restoration’ is a key activity. NEW PARADIGM The landscape of northern and western Scotland contains one of the most natural vegetation patterns in Europe with, for example, the current rarity of woodland in many localities being a key biodiversity feature. Hence the concept of ‘habitat restoration’ loses its meaning.
CONTENTS 2. Preamble & Introduction VEGETATION DYNAMICS Woodland issues 7. Vegetation history: woodland as an episode 8. Vegetation history: natural as opposed to anthropogenic woodland loss 9. Tree regeneration: not inevitable in natural systems 10. Woodland & grazing 11. Woodland history 12. Norway: the wrong model for Scotland 13. The concept of ancient woodland: not applicable to much of upland Scotland 14. The naturally low abundance of montane scrub 15. Concept of treeline: not applicable in the oceanic climate Landscape-scale pattern 16. Natural vegetation zonation 17. Ecological dynamism & favourable condition 18. Overgrazing: a valid concept? Peatland issues 19. Peat erosion as a natural phenomenon 20. The long-term peat cycle 21. Peat cycle diagram Invasive species 22. The spread of gorse 23. The spread of bracken 24. Invasive species and loss of biodiversity 25. Invasive species – colonisation of conifers 26. Hill tracks as corridors for invasive species
Rarity of species & habitats 27. Rarity as an ecological characteristic 28. Rarity at different scales29. Conclusions from the Previous Pages 44. Climate change notes CONSERVATION POLICY ISSUES 30. Biodiversity value of woodland versus moorland 31. Favourable condition at the landscape scale 32. Ecological networks: Woodland networks fragment moorland networks 33. Compartmentalisation of the uplands 34. Compartmentalisation – riverside ‘restoration’ 35. The action planning approach at the landscape scale 36. Moorland management 37. Need for a moorland strategy 38. Soil damage through tree planting; Trees & albedo 39. Irreversible effect of forestry 40. Trees & erosion of hill slopes 41. Peatland conservation and carbon storage 42. Bulldozed tracks & wild land 43. Re-Wilding 44. Climate change notes 45. Approaches to nature conservation & biodiversity targets 46. Endpiece
Management of our uplands should be based on a full understanding of the area’s ecology