AN unusual work squad has been recruited by the Forestry Commission to create seed beds for young trees.
A herd of wild boar is at work at Deerpark near Fochabers, Moray, as part of the commission's plans to switch to "continuous cover forestry". This allows sheltered woodland sites to regenerate naturally, increasing the variety of trees and enriching wildlife habitats.
Many seeds that fall from Scots pines and other trees will germinate, but moss, heather, branches and natural debris on the ground hamper the roots' progress into the soil.
To overcome this problem the ground has to be scarified, using machinery or mixing material on the forest floor with other soil layers.
The Moray trials show boar are highly efficient scarifiers, prodding away at the woodland floor as they root for food.
Phil Whitfield, Moray Forest district manager, said yesterday:"Not only do we get a tough job done, but the standard of workmanship is exemplary. As well as scarifying the ground and munching their way through layers of roots and vegetation, the boars' dung fertilises the ground creating perfect conditions for young saplings to develop."
Andrew Ashcroft, local pig farmer, is also delighted with the arrangement as it produces the finest quality boar meat.
He said: "Wild boar is a bit of a misnomer really. All these animals are born in captivity and are domesticated, but the forest is their natural habitat and they are in their element in the woods."
© The Herald,, February 16 th 2001
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