Flora AND Fauna

The forest's many habitats sustain a myriad of creatures from bryophytes to badgers

Highlighting some of the Arkaig Forest's key habitats

Atlantic rainforest, comprising oak woodland, mixed oak and birch woodland, and ravine woodland. The oak woodland at Clunes is a fine example, with an understory containing bluebells in the spring and cow-wheat in summer. The rainforest woodlands are particularly well-known for their lower plants, especially mosses and lichens. These are particularly rich where fast flowing burns produce a moist, dark microclimate, also good for unusual ferns. Several rare species of lungwort can be found in the ACF rainforest, including Norwegian and yellow speckled belly. The ravine woodlands often also contain plants such as globeflower and alpine lady’s mantle that have been washed downstream from the corries where the waters arise. On the woodland margins and open areas rare butterflies fly such as the chequered skipper and small pearl-bordered fritillary. Decaying trees support unusual beetles, particularly longhorns, and other invertebrates that depend on deadwood. Woodland birds typical of the oak and mixed woodland include wood warbler, willow warbler, spotted flycatcher, redstart and tree pipit. Badgers live in these woods, whilst otters may breed, along with roe deer and feral pigs. Red deer seek sanctuary, if allowed access!

Scottish pine woods, transitioning to mixed native broad-leaved woodland are found in Glen Mallie and at the Gusach. The woodlands still contain some magnificent granny pines, with red limbs and a spreading crown. The pinewoods contain a variety of iconic Scottish species such as red squirrel, pine marten, black grouse and osprey. White-tailed eagle nest in the pines of the Arkaig Forest. Crossbill, siskin and redpoll are all found along with coal tit, mistle thrush, and song thrush. Wood ant nests of two different species are present in the Gusach.


Peatland. Within the Gusach and Glen Mallie woods lie several areas of deep peat, on which typical bog communities have developed. These are bright in summer with yellow tormentil and bog asphodel, the pinks and purples of the heathers and the white nodding heads of cotton grass. Sphagnum mosses of reds. oranges, yellows, whites and greens ensure that the ground stays moist, and contribute to the peat as they decay. The carnivorous red sundews and blue butterworts grow here, taking their share of the midges. Rare dragonflies such as the azure hawker and northern emerald breed in the bog pools. Cuckoos seek out meadow pipit nests here in the spring.

Oligotrophic Loch. Deep, glacial, nutrient-poor water bodies such as Loch Arkaig, contain salmonid fish such as Atlantic salmon, brown (ferrox) trout and Arctic charr. Sandpipers and greenshank breed along the shore, whilst red-breasted merganser, and red-throated and black-throated divers fish on the loch. Dippers forage in the gravelly margins. The shoreline at the Gusach itself supports several unusual plants such as whorled caraway and oblong sundew, with the delicate water lobelia growing in the margins, whilst the rare Irish lady’s-tresses orchid is found nearby.

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