Pine marten return to Snowdonia woods

Press release
Published : 04 Jun 2019 Last update : 07 Jun 2019

The National Trust welcome pine marten back into the Celtic rainforests of Dolmelynllyn, Snowdonia after what could be a century long absence.

In a bid to encourage nearby populations of pine marten to expand their range, National Trust rangers have been working with Vincent Wildlife Trust to set up picnics for pine marten in the broadleaf woodland of Dolmelynllyn.

The menu included their favourite jam and eggs (which they can smell for miles) and motion sensor cameras were used to capture any tea-parties these elusive mammals may have had.

To identify individuals, the ‘picnic’ is suspended 50cm off the ground so that the martens have to stretch to reach it. This enables the camera to capture what could be described as the ‘pine marten passport’. This is the unique markings on the front of their chest, known as a bib, which helps experts at Vincent Wildlife Trust to identify individual pine martens from the original 51 animals translocated, under licence, from Scotland to Mid Wales.

It’s likely the elusive creatures would have been here well over a century ago, but this is the first recorded sighting of them at Dolmelynllyn.

Sabine Nouvet, National Trust Ecologist for Snowdonia said, “To spot them at Dolmelynllyn, soon after installing the cameras, has been amazing. It’s a credit to the management and health of the woodland as well as the fruitful partnership with the Vincent Wildlife Trust.”

Dolmelynllyn woodlands are well known as one of Europe’s hotspots for lichens and bryophytes and includes Coed Ganllwyd National Nature Reserve. The area is already a haven for rare wildlife such as pied flycatcher and lesser horseshoe bats. The cameras also spotted polecat and fallow deer.

Josie Bridges, Vincent Wildlife Trust's Pine Marten Project Officer said:  “It’s great to hear that the pine martens are expanding their territories into new sites like Dolmelynllyn. We are now looking for more volunteers to help with a new survey and to collect further information on the spread of this new pine marten population across Wales and the Marches.”

“As we hear more about the ecological crisis and the rate at which we’re losing more species, it’s really heartening to hear such a positive story about a native species in Wales. And it just goes to show, if a habitat is healthy it can support a rich mixture of wildlife,” added Sabine.

Woodlands like Dolmelynllyn aren’t as common as they once were which is why the National Trust has ambitious plans to make more of Wales’ landscape nature friendly.

“We don’t want everything everywhere, but there should be somewhere for everything. And just knowing that pine marten are here, makes the land seem that bit wilder and that bit more mysterious and exciting.” concluded Sabine.

In time, the conservation charity hopes and expects that pine martens will once again be breeding on National Trust land and from there build a healthy, sustainable population, so that you never know a walk in the woods might one day involve an encounter with this elusive creature.