The Project | England

The pine marten in England

Throughout the 20th century pine martens were still present in some rugged upland areas of northern England, including the Lake District, the Cheviots, the North York Moors and the Pennines. Recent evidence suggests that pine martens are still living in these areas but in very low numbers. The population has shown no signs of recovery from its historical decline and is likely to be vulnerable to extinction.

The pine marten population in Scotland is recovering and expanding and pine martens are now found in close proximity to the English border. This means that it is very likely that pine martens will spread over the border and re-colonise areas of Cumbria and Northumberland in the near future. The rate and success of this re-colonisation will depend on the availability of suitable habitat and the influence of anthropogenic factors, such as mortality on roads. The Trust continues to collect records and sightings of pine martens in southern Scotland and the north of England in order to monitor the spread of the Scottish marten population into England.

While it is likely that parts of northern England will be re-colonised by the southward expansion of the Scottish pine marten population, pine martens are unlikely to re-colonise southern and central England naturally. The presence of large conurbations and dense road networks combined with a lack of suitable habitat in some of these areas together create an impenetrable barrier to a southward spread. As a result, reintroductions are likely to be the best solution if we are to restore pine martens to southern and central England. The VWT has identified areas in England that have suitable habitat for pine martens and we will be undertaking further assessment of these sites with a view to a possible reintroduction programme at some point in the future.