The rise and fall of the pine marten
In the ancient wildwoods that once blanketed much of Britain, the pine marten was one of our most common carnivores, thriving amongst the diversity of trees and shrubs that offered a year round supply of food and snug tree holes in which to den.
Pine marten numbers declined dramatically during the 19th and early 20th century as a result of the combined impact of continued habitat loss and an increase in predator control associated with the growth in Victorian game shooting estates. Today, whilst the pine marten population in Scotland is recovering and expanding, the marten population in England and Wales has shown no sign of recovery and the likely outcome is extinction.
The VWT’s Pine Marten Recovery Project aims to restore viable populations of pine martens to Wales and England, focusing on those areas within the marten’s natural range where habitat and other conditions are suitable. A major part of this work will involve the reinforcement or reintroduction of pine martens. This began in autumn 2015 with the first translocation of pine martens from Scotland to mid-Wales.
Why restore the pine marten?
The pine marten is part of our rich wildlife heritage. It plays an integral role in a healthy, balanced woodland ecosystem and can be an important predator of pest species, such as grey squirrels. As a bonus, re-establishing pine martens in England and Wales also has the potential to benefit the rural economy, as has been the case in Scotland, through the creation of tourism opportunities for people who are keen to see this captivating woodland animal.