1.2 Million Acorn Collection Will Help Transform Galloway’s Ancient Woodlands

Around 1.2 million acorns have been collected as part of a project to expand and link Galloway Forest Park’s ancient oakwoods from the hill tops to the coast.

Over the next few years, Forest Enterprise Scotland will plant the acorns around Loch Trool and the Cree Valley.

With the help of natural regeneration and other careful planting, the oakwoods will, in time, be linked up, creating a large and vibrant habitat.

Establishing such a large oakwood habitat is not an easy job in Galloway as acorn crops are particularly unpredictable. In 2013, the last time a collection took place, only about 1,800 saplings were produced for planting, however, this year’s bumper crop should grow around 600,000 young trees.

Gareth Ventress, Environment Forester with Forest Enterprise Scotland said:

“Early in the autumn we identified that we were in for a bumper crop of acorns so we began planning for collections within Galloway Forest Park.

“We also decided to get help from other staff throughout Scotland and asked them to collect acorns from other native oakwoods found on the National Forest Estate. The Cree Valley Community Woodland Trust, Borders Forest Trust and Moffat Community Woodlands all assisted in the big collection too in order to further native woodland expansion across their project areas in south Scotland.

“By combining acorns collected from across Galloway Forest Park, we increase the genetic diversity of the trees linking the remnant woodlands. This is vital for creating robust and resilient woodlands that can handle pests and diseases well into the future.”

The acorns are collected by laying huge felt nets across the forest floor. The felt keeps the acorns off the soil and makes collection much easier.

Once the acorns are collected they are sorted then stored. Over the next three to four years the acorn seeds will be germinated and grown so that saplings can then be planted. Many of the seeds will be ‘graded’ out and deemed infertile during this period.

Around 600,000 saplings are estimated to be produced from the 1.2 million acorns. These young trees will help create new oakwoods and enrich the woodland habitats throughout Galloway Forest Park.