Carrick - conservation and productive forestry hand in hand

UPM Tilhill established 1525ha of productive forest with significant areas of native planting - a commercial scheme in harmony with the existence of Golden Eagles.

Location: Carrick Farm near Lochgoilhead, Cowal
Size: 1525ha
Aim: Establish a productive forest with significant areas of native planting
Main challenge: The presence of Golden Eagles
Environmental requirement: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Carrick Farm was purchased by a UPM Tilhill client in 2011 with the aim of establishing a productive forest. The investment appraisal was predicated on planting about two thirds of the farm, leaving the upper ground and ridges open to accommodate Golden Eagles which were known to be present in the area.

Following the purchase, a pair of Golden Eagles was recorded nesting on the site – the first known breeding attempt on the farm for over 40 years.

The planting plan needed radical alterations to find options that would satisfy the concerns of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in relation to the legally protected status of Golden Eagles whilst keeping the client’s objectives at the forefront to be able to deliver a commercially viable forest.

Extensive research was carried out by the UPM Tilhill teams of ecologists, investment managers and forest managers.
Critical to the planting plan redesign was to gain an understanding of the eagle’s use of the ground at Carrick Farm.
Over 200 hours of vantage point surveys of eagle flights, computer-generated modelling to identify key topographical features used by hunting eagles, data from nest cameras and satellite transmitters, habitat surveys, live prey surveys and site-specific advice from the UK’s leading eagle experts contributed to the revised planting plan designed to satisfy the Environmental Statement, which would
then underpin the grant aid application.
Results from the ground surveys suggested a lack of live prey such as grouse and hares on the property, the consequence
of decades of ecological overgrazing by sheep. Consequently, although the eagle pair successfully produced single chicks in
2011, 2012, and 2013 only one has survived into maturity.
Starvation is likely to have been a factor.