Tree management in Glen Nevis

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When Jimmy Ness did the first routes on the crags at Polldubh in Glen Nevis in the late forties, there was very little tree cover in the glen, except for the odd Scots Pine, oak or holly. Ten years later a photo looking down and across to the first ascent of Pandora had an uninterrupted view to the road – not a tree in sight (to such an extent that Joe French, who spent a day filming Dave Macleod on Misadventure from the same spot for the film Polldubh, failed to recognise the picture).

For whatever reason, times have changed; birch trees have rapidly taken over and now cover over two-thirds of the hillside around the Polldubh crags causing problems of vegetation on climbs, shading and an increase in the midgieness of the place.

After discussion with the people and groups that use the crags as well as the landowner (British Alcan), Scottish Natural Heritage (the area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area for Conservation) and Friends of Nevis/Nevis Partnership, it was decided to look at ways to address the problem.

It was agreed to allow felling of birch trees around the foot of the crags and to look at ways of improving eroded paths to the more popular cliffs like Pinnacle and Southwest. The first stage of tree felling, which has already started, involves clearing the trees from around the base of the crags from Pinnacle Ridge to Dundee Weaver Crag. It is hoped to continue until all of the affected crags are cleared over a period of a couple of years. SNH has agreed as to which trees are to be felled and to the method of stacking trunks and branches at the foot of the crags. These woodpiles will provide a valuable habitat for insects, birds and mammals and, over time, will return nutrients to the ground. Funds are now being sought to manage the tree control on a long-term basis and to fund any path work and erosion repair.

This has been a great advert for what can be achieved when hill users, landowners and interested bodies cooperate. For more information on the work of Friends of Nevis contact

Ed Grindley

If you wish to help this project then please email one of the following :- or

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