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Biodiversity at Glenmore Lodge

New biodiversity plan for the grounds of Glenmore Lodge

Glenmore Lodge, sportscotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre, is surrounded by a beautiful natural environment.

The landscape of the Cairngorms National Park is not only an astounding place to adventure, its also home to many important plant and wildlife species. Being physically active in the outdoors has many benefits, spending time in natural environments is great for our wellbeing and reminds us of the value of Scotland’s many green spaces.

Glenmore's grounds are around six hectares, but it helps to think of them as one piece in a larger mosaic. The site is surrounded by Scots Pine woodland that forms Glenmore Forest Park, which is part of a chain of Native Caledonian Pinewoods stretching from Glenfeshie to Abernethy, together comprising the largest expanse of native pinewood remaining in the UK.

The Cairngorms National Park is considered one of the most biodiverse places in the UK, covering less than 2% of its landmass but housing over 25% of the country’s rare and threatened species. Though a small area in this large landscape, we have a responsibility to look after our grounds in a way that supports biodiversity and play out part in nurturing the wider environment around us.

In November 2022, the Glenmore Lodge grounds were surveyed by an environmental consultant who provided  a report. It detailed the ecological significance of the area, the many plants and wildlife that call it their home and made recommendations on how to improve the management of the grounds to better encourage biodiversity.

This report is now informing the development of a new biodiversity management plan, and though specific to Glenmore Lodge’s grounds, many of the underlying principles and lessons of it can be applied across Scotland.

These include:

  • Identify high value areas to protect when planning future site developments. It is important to know what the most important areas are to look after and where should be improved.
  • Removing invasive non-native species. An example of this at Glenmore is cutting down the Sitka Spruce trees that grow faster than native Scots Pine.
  • Install bird and bat boxes. Bat populations have suffered a dramatic decline in the UK and are protected under Scottish law,  providing roosting opportunities can support local populations. Many habitats on site are ideal for supporting breeding bird species
  • Minimise areas of disturbed ground. The spread of topsoil enables the growth of areas of dense bracken. Instead, it should be replanted with appropriate seed and vegetation cuttings should be removed to encourage diversity instead.
  • Mowing regime. Areas of grass that do not need to be closely mowed for practical use should be allowed to grow longer, and a more diverse array of wildflowers encouraged. This is an important habitat for pollinating insects and longer growing areas provide cover for toads and frogs, lizards, small mammals and sites for ground nesting birds.
  • Retain deadwood. This helps to support a diverse woodland ecosystem, creating habitats for small mammals and invertebrates and enabling a nutrient-rich habitat for fungi.
  • Educational signs: Signs will be installed around the site providing information about the area’s environmental significance and the relationship between the landscape and Glenmore’s cultural heritage.

Glenmore Lodge’s grounds have to fulfil a wide range of educational and functional demands. There are outdoor facilities to maintain (including a dry ski slope, outdoor climbing towers and a paddlesports pond) and a large lawn used as a landing site by helicopters for refuelling, training or as part of mountain rescues.

The environment is a key theme for those training to be Mountain Leaders, and the hope is that by encouraging visitors to explore the grounds they can improve their understanding of Scotland’s natural landscape and be motivated to encourage biodiversity in their own green spaces, wherever they are and whatever size.

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