Atlantic Hazel Audit of Assynt and Coigach (2017-18)

Atlantic Hazel Audit of Assynt and Coigach

This Project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage

Assynt has some of the best remnant Atlantic hazel woodlands in the North West Highlands. These woodlands have existed here for 9,500 years and arguably are one of the most important habitats in Assynt. However very little is known about them. The Assynt Field Club were keen to find out more about them: where they were, how many, what condition they were in and how much biodiversity were associated with them.

In March 2017 the Field Club committee agreed to commission Roz Summers to carry out a survey of the Hazel trees Coryllus avellana in Assynt and Coigach. The project was submitted and approved as one of the core projects of the Coigach and Assynt living Landscape Partnership and funded by The Heritage Lottery and Scottish Natural Heritage (now Nature Scot).

The report

This report is the result of that work. The report specifically looked at the best 15 sites (28 sub-compartments) a total of 27ha. A further 50 sites were recorded. The three main concentrations of hazel trees are at Nedd, Achmelvich and Inverkirkaig. It was discovered that the trees show an astonishing range of forms. Most were multi-stemmed with a range of ages on one tree. Some of trees were undoubtedly extremely old. One of the largest at a stool girth of 14m

Some of the old hazel trees host a stunning variety of lichens, mosses, liverworts and fungi, many of which are unique to this type of Atlantic woodland. The Field Club organised a hazel lichen training course in Assynt with top lichenologist, Andy Acton, and we learned how lichens are an indicator of just how old and diverse these woodlands can be. It turns out, judging by the lichen flora, that Assynt’s Atlantic hazel woodlands are comparable to some of the best hazel woods in Scotland – sites currently found in Argyll.

The project also included work with the local school, talks for Field Club members, outings for the public and workshops in the Village hall. We have also produced the Assynt and Coigach Hazel leaflet.

The final audit report, appendices and leaflet are available from the links below.

Atlantic Hazel Audit of Assynt and Coigach, Roz Summers April 2017-March 2018

Appendix 1: The Atlantic hazel woodland audit brief

Appendix 2: Results

Appendix 3: Location of other trees and stands

Appendix 4: Survey sheets

Assynt Field Club leaflet: The Hazel Woods of Assynt and Coigach in the North West Highlands

 

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