Restoring ecological processes: regeneration of the core vegetation
The core areas and smaller initiatives that we have reviewed represent some of the wildest country in Scotland, England and Wales, yet the land in each has experienced centuries of progressive degradation of its vegetation. The Glen Affric core area proposed by Trees for Life is one of the least degraded as it has several thousand hectares of old Caledonian pine, but overall, Caledon has only a small proportion of original forest cover. Eryri, including most of the Rhinogydd, is far less natural, with large swathes of plantation forestry (all exotics) and hillsides denuded of trees, with ancient woodland confined to remnant patches on the lower slopes of the valleys. Dartmoor has been similarly deforested and grazed by domestic stock to produce a species-poor acid grassland on most of the high ground, with relic but in places extensive patches of ancient woodland on the hillsides and along the lower reaches of the rivers.