Thermal imaging helps Pine Marten study


Thermal imaging is helping to monitor Pine Martens at Galloway Forest Park in south-west Scotland.

The technology is being used to capture the occupancy rates of more than 100 den boxes, installed to help boost numbers of the mustelid, without disturbing them. Figures show that, following the introduction of the boxes, there has been an increase in their usage since monitoring began in 2016. In that first year four were used, and that has steadily climbed to 14 in 2023.

Pine Marten numbers have risen steadily in the Galloway Forest Park thanks to a range of measures (FLS).

The thermal imaging trials have been taking place over the past year. They have resulted in footage being captured on wildlife cameras fitted by the Dumfries and Galloway Pine Marten Group showing kits being moved at about four weeks old by their mother.

Galloway Forest Park is operated by Forestry and Land Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway and is claimed to be the largest forest in the UK.

Kim Kirkbride, environment forester at Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), said: "Using the non-invasive thermal imaging camera allows us to remotely monitor how many den boxes are in use, without disturbing the inhabitants. We can establish whether populations of Pine Marten are increasing and if they're breeding successfully."

FLS hopes to use the same technology at other sites across Scotland to help monitor Pine Marten at both a local and national level.