Becoming the custodians of a rare woodland is exciting and somewhat daunting. It feels like a big responsibility. Apparently upland oak woods are really rare in global terms (although by the coast, it is still classed as upland as conditions are as harsh as if the trees were up a mountain). Added to this, it is oceanic (being by the Atlantic, though fairly sheltered so that the oaks can grow reasonably well) which means it is also known as Celtic rainforest.
For the last couple of weeks, helped by SNH and a visit from Davie Black of Plantlike Scotland, we have been identifying various rocky overhangs, ravines and individual trees with particularly interesting (rare) lichens, liverworts and mosses growing on them.
The thing is: how to manage the wood in ways that will safeguard all the rare species on site. They are threatened by invasive rhododendron for starters. Easy, you might say, just get rid of it. But there are thousands of big shrubs, and removing them will change light conditions and then: what to do with the brash? (burning does not appear to be an option because of the damage it might cause).
An then there is the grazing and browsing – but that’s another story.