Pine Martens re-introduced into the Forest of Dean
We've got some new residents in the Forest of Dean - it's been announced that 18 pine marten have been reintroduced to a secret location in the Forest.
One of Britain's rarest mammals, they were once a familiar feature here. The last official recording of a pine marten in the Forest of Dean was in 1860 and they have been virtually extinct in England ever since although there are some in Scotland and in Wales where a similar reintroduction project has been successful.
Pine marten are from the same family as otters and weasels and are usually shy and elusive. They are similar in size to a domestic cat, with slim bodies, brown fur and a distinctive cream ‘bib’ on their throats, they have long, bushy tails and prominent rounded ears.
The animals now released into the Forest of Dean are tagged and will be followed and monitored and the hopes are that they will breed and re-establish a population here.
In 2016, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Forestry England, Forest Research and Vincent Wildlife Trust, supported by Forest Holidays and The Woodland Trust, began a collaborative project investigating the feasibility of reintroducing pine martens to the Forest of Dean and lower Wye Valley. Thanks to support from Forestry England, this vision has come to fruition and in 2018, a project to translocate up to 60 pine martens from Scotland to Gloucestershire (20 each year, over 3 years, commencing in 2019) was launched.
The Forest of Dean and lower Wye Valley was listed as a favourable release location due to the total area of woodland found in the area and the high proportion of broadleaved woodland that it comprised. In the Forest of Dean particularly, there is commercial interest surrounding the relationship between pine martens and the tree damage associated with grey squirrels and, although not a key motivation of the reintroduction project, findings will contribute significantly to current research on the two species.