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Our work here

View of mountains through trees, RSPB Loch Garten nature reserve

Image: Chris Gomersall

Abernethy is internationally famous for the breeding ospreys at Loch Garten. It also protects Britain's largest remaining area of native pinewood, home to several other rare species.

Other habitats include heather moorland, blanket bog and mountain plateaux. We manage these habitats to maintain their scenic and biological importance.

Expanding the forest

When standing amidst Abernethy forest - the largest remnant of ancient Caledonian pinewood in the UK - it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see it as it was 8,000 years ago, when boreal forests covered most of Scotland’s landscape.

The Romans called this vast forest ‘the great wood of Caledon’.

The RSPB has an ambitious 200 year vision for the forest. We plan to restore the forest to the natural tree line (650 metres above sea level) expanding to the level of thousands of years ago.

To do this we will:

  • enable the forest to regenerate naturally wherever possible,
  • cut back or burn heather, creating a seedbed that will give seedlings a better chance,
  • sow locally-sourced seed into suitable seedbeds, plant birch, willow, juniper, alder and aspen to enrich areas which have missing broadleaved trees but where pine is doing well,
  • and continue to manage the extent to which young trees are browsed and grazed by deer, by controlling their numbers.  

Highlands and bogs

The upland areas of the reserve are home to other important species, including greenshanks, black grouse and a variety of bog flora and invertebrates. 

We are managing the montane eco-system in order to protect this wildlife. In particular we are looking after the mire and boggy woodland by restoring and maintaining natural water tables.

Finding out more

We are conducting research into the requirements of key species of plants and animals, including capercaillies and Scottish crossbills. This will help us to protect them.

Working with people

Up to 50,000 people visit the Osprey Centre each year, while many others visit the reserve for its scenery and walking. We are continuing to maintain all our visitor facilities and are developing a capercaillie-viewing facility to accompany our existing closed-circuit links for watching ospreys and other wildlife. 

The reserve contributes greatly to the local community, generating important revenue and supporting many local jobs. We will continue to promote the Osprey Centre, and are developing green transport links to the site. For the rest of the reserve, we prefer a less intensive recreational use.

How you can help

Abernethy is home to a number of spectacular birds and other wildlife. Please help us keep it special.

Donate now