Pine Marten increasing in Kielder Forest


A study of Pine Martens in Kielder Forest suggests that they are on the increase.

The mammals were caught on camera at the site in Northumberland in 2018 – the first records in the forest since it was planted in 1926 and the first in the county for more than a century. Sightings have increased since then and Forestry England began a project last February to boost their numbers.

One of the Kielder Forest Pine Martens captured merely 24 hours after a camera was installed in October (Forestry England).

The scheme saw 50 denning boxes installed in one area of conifer forest. Another area 24 km away was also studied, this time with no boxes, so conservationists could assess the impact of providing the creatures with housing.

Hidden cameras soon captured images of Pine Martens checking out the denning boxes. When the boxes were inspected in autumn, they collected droppings from both areas which DNA tests confirmed were from martens.

Ecologist Wayne Penrose said: "It is early days and more data is needed, but the results are encouraging. Four of the boxes showed clear evidence of martens using them for denning. In fact, one inquisitive animal was photographed inspecting a den by a camera installed just 24 hours earlier.

"We also looked for marten scats at set locations around the boxes and found nearly four times the number identified the previous year. Increased evidence of Pine Martens was also found in the area without boxes, in keeping with an upward trend, although not at the same level. 

"To see such activity around boxes so soon has got everyone buzzing."