Ballochbuie Forest

An area of woodland which extends to approximately 1000 ha (2500 acres), Ballochbuie Forest includes one of the most significant remnants of the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest in the country. Now part of the Balmoral Estate, the forest is located 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Balmoral Castle, to the southeast of Invercauld Bridge. It was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1878, who was concerned about the logging of the fine Scots Pine trees (Pinus sylvestris), which were being felled to be sold to an Aberdeen timber merchant. This is said to represent the first significant act of woodland conservation in Scotland and is commemorated by the Ballochbuie Purchase Cairn at the summit of Craig Doin. The pinewood has since been preserved by successive generations of the Royal Family, and the forest is now designated as a Special Area of Conservation under the European Habitats Directive, with some of the trees having been dated to more than 400 years old. The forest is also noted for the presence of two endangered bird species; Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and the Scottish crossbill (Loxia scotica).

In the early 1970s, a small area of the forest known as 'the tennis court' was fenced off to prevent grazing by deer and allow natural regeneration in trial suggested by The Duke of Edinburgh. Following the success of the trial, this area was extended by a further c.20 hectares (50 acres) in 1979 and another 300 hectares (750 acres) was enclosed in 1992. These areas are monitored by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology as part of a long-term study.

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