Core Oak Places: Sunart, Galloway, Cawdor, Tarbert, Crieff, Trossachs
Oak points to enjoy
- Trees so cloaked in mosses, lichens and ferns that you can’t see where the small plants end and the bark begins
- Moisture-laden mists that come in from the Atlantic ocean and hang in droplets from leaf and branch
- The songs of woodland warblers and redstarts in summer, notes cascading or subtle, the singers often screened by a mass of oak leaves
- Traces of old workings in the woods, such as the outlines of platforms once used by charcoal burners
These are all things that are typical of Scotland’s western oakwoods. To specialists, they are ‘old sessile oakwoods with Ilex and Blechnum’. To most of the rest of us, that translates as woodland that’s big on the species of oak that doesn’t have stalked acorns and where ivy and hard ferns are common. Simpler still, in common with all the Core Forest sites, these oakwoods are great places to visit.
Within the EU, this kind of old oakwood is virtually confined to the UK. Here (where they also go by the name of Atlantic Oakwoods) they are widespread and locally quite large in the west of the country, but much less common in the drier east.
Big on the smalls
Typically, our Atlantic oakwoods have many kinds of small ‘bryophytes’ – mosses, liverworts and lichens – on the ground and covering much of the trees, apart from on the leaves. These include many rare bryophyte species that thrive in the mild, moist conditions. Depending on soil conditions, other trees, such as downy birch, can be common within the wider oakwood area.
EU co-funded work on this type of woodland has also been carried out in Britain through the Atlantic oakwoods project and the Meirionnydd Oakwoods Project
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