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, but the population showed no signs of recovery from its historical decline.

The pine marten population in Scotland is recovering and expanding and pine martens have begun to spread over the English border and re-colonise areas of Northumberland and Cumbria. 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 VWT is helping to pave the way for the recovery of the pine marten in northern England through our Back from the Brink project. The project is monitoring the re-colonisation of pine martens with help from a network of volunteers, enhancing habitat by installing artificial den boxes to provide resting and breeding sites for pine martens and raising awareness of the species.

While 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.