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Nature Reserves

Abernethy Forest National Nature Reserve

Abernethy Forest National Nature Reserve is 5,796 hectares in size and contains the largest amount of native Scots Pinewood located in one area. These Scots Pinewoods are the last remains of the Caledonian Forest near Badenoch, Strathspey, Aviemore, and the Highlands, Scotland.

Previously Abernethy Forest was part of much larger, more continuous woodland that took over most of the lower part of the Cairngorm slopes. Today the Abernethy Nature Reserve, which is in the Cairngorms National Park, is all that remains of this eastern group of various pinewoods.

The forest is home to many animals and birds, and plays an important part in the ecology of this area. Some of the animals that you may see while exploring the forest are the wild cat, badger and red deer. The unique woodland is also home to many varieties of birds, like the Scottish Crossbill, Black Grouse, Osprey, Goldeneye, Greenshank and Capercaillie, that use the woodland also for nesting purposes. The ideal time of the year to come visit is during July if you are keen to view the unique plants, birds and rare northern insects that inhabit this area only. The Abernethy Forest Reserve is viewed as national and geological importance due to these various aspects mentioned so far.

Significantly, most of the native pinewood found at the reserve is considered undisturbed high forest made up of mainly native broadleaf tree species. In the northern part of the woodlands there are parts that originate from the eighteenth century and are viewed as semi-natural forests because of not having grown naturally but through man. What is also interesting for scientists is the structural diversity of the trees, which incorporates the various heights and ages of the trees. Aside from the forest there is also the raised bog that is made up of surface pools that contain a lot of interesting plants and insects.

Not only do the Abernethy pinewoods contain many unique bird and insect species, but it also contains nine species of micro-fungi and fungi, and twenty-eight types of lichen that can only be found in forests that are very old and have been around for a long time.