Andrew Ashcroft, left, and Phil Whitfield with a boar in the Fochabers forest.
A squad of workers has been busy snouting around a Moray forest as part of a pioneering project in woodland regeneration.
The herd of wild boar was drafted in to munch through ground vegetation and create a perfect seed-bed for young trees.
The trial at the Deerpark, near Fochabers, is part of a Forestry Commission plan to allow sheltered woodland sites to regenerate naturally.
Foresters hope the move will improve wildlife habitats and lead to greater diversification in the area's flora and fauna.
Although many seeds that fall from Scots pine and other trees germinate successfully, others fail because their roots' progress into the soil is hampered by ground vegetation such as moss.
Foresters seeking to create new woodland or regenerate existing areas have overcome the problem by scarifying the forest floor and mixing soil with organic materials.
Moray Forest district manager Phil Whitfield said: "Often this would involve using heavy machinery Ð but the Moray trial indicates that boars are extremely efficient scarifiers. The 23-strong herd we have at the Deerpark can clear a football pitch-sized patch in two months.
As well as scarifying the ground and munching their way through layers of roots and vegetation, the boars' droppings fertilise the ground and create perfect conditions for young saplings to develop."
Wild boar are omnivorous by nature and feed by rooting about in the forest floor for tubers, vegetation, fungi and insects.
The wild boar in the Moray trial are owned by farmer Andrew Ashcroft, of Arradoul, near Buckie, who rears them on a commercial basis.
He is delighted to be involved in the experiment, which helps him produce top quality boar meat while giving the animals a free-range existence.
"Wild boar is a bit of a misnomer really," said Mr Ashcroft, who is chairman of the Scottish Wild Boar Association. "The animals are born in captivity and domesticated, but the forest is their natural habitat.
"As far as their welfare is concerned, this really is the best possible scenario."
© Press & Journal, February 16 th 2001
|Return to index||Return to Exotic Scottish Animals||Return to Wild Boar|