SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Abernethy Forest

image: SPA location map 


Abernethy Forest is located on the southern fringe of the Spey Valley to the north of the Cairngorm massif in the eastern Highlands of Scotland. It is the largest remaining tract of native pinewood in Britain and is characterised by its great variety of topography and habitats. The River Nethy flows northwards through the eastern margin of the forest, creating an additional variety of conditions through the processes of erosion and deposition along its channel. The forest has developed on undulating glacial deposits, with Loch Garten and many pools (and their surrounding valley mires) found within the lowest areas. In contrast, the higher ground opens out in places to Heather Calluna vulgaris-Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi heaths and there is an extensive shrub layer of Juniper Juniperus communis in many places. Although some undisturbed high forest remains, much of the woodland has been managed, although the presence of old pines and glades creates a semi-natural structure and vegetation composition in many areas. There are many plants and animals present that are characteristic of native pinewoods, as well as rich assemblages associated with wetlands and species typical of northern heaths. The forest is being extended southwards by pine regeneration on higher ground, encouraged by sympathetic conservation management. Abernethy Forest supports large populations of breeding woodland birds associated with northern pinewoods and their glades, including Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus and Scottish Crossbill Loxia scotica (Britain's only endemic bird species). The large and varied area of semi-natural vegetation at Abernethy supports several species of raptors, including nesting Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). 


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section


 This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:


During the breeding season;
Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, 45 individuals representing at least 2.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain
Osprey Pandion haliaetus, 2 pairs representing at least 2.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at early 1990's)
Scottish Crossbill Loxia scotica, 175 pairs representing at least 58.3% of the breeding population in Great Britain



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