Highland Birchwoods

Promoting best practice in the sustainable management of forests and woodlands.

montane scrub restoration project montane scrub restoration project montane scrub restoration project

The Montane Scrub Restoration Project

Contact: William Bodles
Status: Completed


Established in 1996 as one of the first projects of the Millennium Forest for Scotland, this project aims to raise the awareness of montane scrub in Scotland


Over the last twenty years the fortunes of native woodlands have been overturned and they now have a recognised role in forestry. However, this activity has been concentrated in a zone below the timberline. The natural continuum of woodland from below the timber line through the natural treeline and up to the biological limit of tree growth no longer exists and is substantially forgotten. This project focuses on this neglected habitat and is working through partnership to bring the habitat and it's current status to broader attention and to stimulate action for recovery. The project partnership believe that a restored montane scrub zone could contribute substantially to the health of the Scottish uplands.

Following a launching seminar in 1996 the Montane Scrub Action Group was set up to steer the project and promote the habitat. This group is an informal interdisciplinary partnership of individuals supported by organisations, actively promoting the benefits and restoration of semi-natural montane scrub. The remit of the group is to develop a vision for the restoration of montane scrub; to promote that vision; to produce guidance on restoration and to improve the knowledge of the existing resource.

Project Outputs

The 'Scrubbers Bulletin' is produced occasionally as a vehicle through which the MSAG reports on its work. It also acts as an information exchange forum for those working towards the restoration and research into montane scrub and associated habitats. Bulletin No.3, recently issued is available on this web site.

A promotional booklet 'Montane Scrub' has been compiled by the group and has been published by SNH in their Natural heritage Management series.

'Low alpine, Subalpine and coastal Scrub Communities' in Scotland is a report published by Highland Birchwoods.

'Guidance for the Restoration of Montane Scrub'. A series of booklets providing guidance on the best practice in the restoration of scrub.

An element of the project was to take a look at the use of small scale fence enclosures in hugh north facing cories. This investigation has shown that such fencing has very high resource implications, thus the options for protecting remnants in these inhospitable areas are either reduction in numbers of browsing animals or larger fences away from the unstable ground.

Partners and Funders

The Montane Scrub Action Group members are: Michael Scott as chair, Dr Brian Staines, Dr Ian Hulbert, David Mardon, Dr Alison Hestor, Rob Soutar, Angus MacDonald, Tim Clifford and Diana Gilbert.

The Group is supported by: Plantlife, Scottish Agricultural College, The National Trust for Scotland, MacAulay Land Use Research Institute, Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage and Highland Birchwoods.

The funding for the project is provided by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Millennium Commission, through the Millennium Commission for Scotland Trust.


The Montane Scrub Action Group are being kept closely informed of progress on the The Willow Project a three year research project into the taxonomy, ecology, mycology, phytochemistry and genetics of willows in Scotland and which aims to:

  • clarify the species and hybrid composition of the willow communities
  • to assess the patterns of intraspecific genetic variability
  • to investigate how diversity in the willows relates to diversity in associated ecosystem components
  • to establish the factors currently limiting willow regeneration


Project Partners

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scottish Crop Research Institute, Macaulay Institure, Scottish Agricultural College, Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland, and University of Edinburgh.

Sub-arctic Willows in Scotland website

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Highland Birchwoods is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland (no. 142892).

Highland Birchwoods, Littleburn, Munlochy, Ross-Shire Scotland IV8 8NN

Tel: +44 (0) 1463 811 606 Fax: +44 (0) 1463 811 607 Email: