Beinn Bhan

Beinn Bhan

Beinn Bhan is designated as an SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest) and separately designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The area is a good example of a Torridonian sandstone mountain with high cliffs and deep corries.

A range of upland plant communities include alpine and sub-alpine heaths, ledge vegetation dominated by tall herbs and types adapted to survive amongst the acidic scree. The summit plateaux are dominated by alpine and subalpine heaths but on rocky ground close to the top of the main ridge there are examples of dwarf juniper heath. This community forms a mat, generally less than 10cm thick, where dwarf juniper and heather are especially frequent along with a distinctive oceanic moss and liverwort flora and the rare alpine bearberry. The Beinn Bhan juniper heath is particularly significant as one of mainland Scotland’s most southerly and highest altitude examples, as well as one of the few examples on sandstone. Scottish dwarf juniper heath, is an Annex 1 habitat under the EU Habitats and Species Directive and is considered to be of national importance at this site.

Of major additional interest are the tall herb communities on ledges inaccessible to grazing animals. One of the most impressive is Ratclife’s Ledge in Coire na Poite. This huge, sloping ledge is over 200 metres long and around 45 metres wide and supports a dense and luxuriant growth of ferns, and tall herbs in patches where base-rich seepages occur. This species-rich community includes locally notable species such as alpine saw-wort and dwarf cornel. On other parts of the cliffs base-rich springs and flushes support base-loving mosses, including one nationally scarce species. The patches of tall herb on the enriched soils correspond to the eutrophic tall herb community, which is an Annex 1 habitat under the EU Habitats and Species Directive and is considered to be of national importance at this site.

Finally, screes form an important habitat for pioneer species and frost and grazing sensitive species. The slopes below the corrie cliffs are mostly acidic scree, with patches of herb-rich grassland. These communities are similar to those located on the cliff ledges. Elsewhere, shady block screes support good examples of dwarf shrub heath dominated by heather, bilberry and crowberry. The screes also support late snow bed communities in which parsley fen is abundant.

Designated features of the site include Upland assemblage, Alpine and subalpine heaths, Tall herb ledges, Acidic scree, Plants in crevices on acid rocks, Dry heaths, Wet heathland with cross leaved heath and Montane acid grasslands.

Applecross Larch · The Applecross Trust

Applecross Larch

Applecross Larch

In September 2013, the Forestry Commission issued a Statutory Plant Health Notice on larch growing at Applecross, due to the presence of a notifiable plant disease, Phytopthera ramorum. This disease is spread as fungal spores from needles and is highly contagious on larch species in the right environment – mild, humid areas with a secondary host such as rhododendron. The notice required trees within a 250m radius of the infection area to be felled before the next season’s needle flush, implying end of March 2014.

With limited timescales for the consideration of alternative transport & marketing options, the Applecross Trustees very quickly came to the conclusion that the movement of diseased timber out of the Applecross peninsula was not the correct thing to do, given the risk of wider spread of the disease. Also, the local demand for both quality timber and fuel wood suggested a more sustainable strategy for using the wood than exporting it to more distant markets. From the start of operations, the aim was therefore to cut for community use, and process the quality timber as a secondary operation, to size specifications obtained by a local ordering system.

Approximately 750 tonnes of larch timber was felled and extracted to roadside locations for processing and transport. Of this, around 250 tonnes has been converted to many sizes of planks, batons, posts, beams and rails for local use, and from which the outer slabs of each log provide quality firewood. Sawdust has also been an inevitable by-product, which has been available for use within the 5-mile radius allowed under statutory controls on movement of infected residue and fuel wood products. Processor licences were obtained by two larger users in the area – Torridon Hotel, and a boatbuilder in Lochcarron, who have taken delivery of 170 tonnes of round timber. A stock of timber remains for future use and, being European larch, this will season over time without loss of quality.

The opportunity was taken to supply all timber products at below market cost and subsidised by the Trust for local use.

Community Woodfuel · The Applecross Trust

Community Woodfuel

Community Woodfuel

The Trust’s normal woodland management activities provide more than purely scenic benefits in fulfilment of its principal aims. It is a costly but sustainable exercise leading to wider community benefit.

300 tons of timber was gifted to the Community Company from the Gateway Woodland clearfell during 2015. The Trust created a site for storage and presented the timber in 3m lengths. The Company is having the wood cut into logs by a local operator, and transported to homes around the peninsula.

By providing the wood free of charge, the sale price to the customer remains cost effective.

Hardwoods are extremely popular for wood fuel and other uses. The Trust carries out annual tree surgery and other woodland management on the mature trees within the policies, and gifts the timber to the local community. The scheme has been so successful that the Trust is working with a local resident to create a new business for him to take forward.

Once a year, in the build-up to Christmas, estate staff spend a few weeks cutting up logs and delivering 1-2 tons to each pensioner household on the peninsula. This was first carried out in 1994 and has now become an established part of Mike and Iain’s work.

A new playhouse for the school

The mobile sawmill visited Applecross and milled timber for a new playhouse for the children at the school. The Trust contracted the milling and gave the wood to the school. Local people are involved in the building of the new structure.

Young shoots

The Trust provides saplings, supplied by Christie Elite Ltd, free of charge to Applecross residents who want to plant trees on their land. Over the past 2 years, over 2,000 trees have been handed out across the peninsula.

The value of timber provided for community use during 2014/15 was estimated to be in excess of £20k.