Pine marten den oes delivered and ready for use

The Dumfries & Galloway Pine Marten Group were celebrating this week as the first batch of Den Boxes were received, ready for installation across the region.

the pine marten has undergone a renaissance of late.
the pine marten has undergone a renaissance of late.

The Pine Marten has been undergoing a renaissance of late in South West Scotland.

Formerly extinct in our region, a small but ultimately successful reintroduction programme took place 40 years ago and the number and distribution of Pine Martens is now increasing. This is to be celebrated for a number of reasons, including their increasingly understood relationship with red and grey squirrels, with robust pine marten populations suppressing grey squirrels across the landscape, giving red squirrels the opportunity to thrive.

The Dumfries & Galloway Pine Marten Group was set up in 2021 to raise awareness of this recovering native predator and to promote and support its conservation in our region.

Stephanie and the D&GPMG came to collect the finished boxes

This week the group was delighted to receive the first batch of den boxes, made by the volunteers at the Glenkens Mens Shed, to be supplemented by a further batch from the Gatehouse Mens Shed.

The large natural tree cavities that pine martens prefer for resting, over wintering and breeding, are scarce in the predominantly young forests of Dumfries and Galloway and the installation of den boxes helps to provide pine martens with homes in which to stay safe, keep warm and raise their young. The den boxes will all be installed at suitable sites across Galloway to support the re-establishment of the Pine Marten.

Dr Stephanie Johnstone, Chair of the Dumfries & Galloway Pine Marten Group, taking receipt of the den boxes, said: “The volunteers at the Glenkens and Gatehouse Mens Sheds have been amazing, and it is thanks to their skill, hard work and volunteer time that we now have this amazing store of den boxes ready to install across Galloway.

"This work has been possible thanks to funding that we have received from the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership and the Kilgallioch Wind Farm Community Fund. We have been so pleased with the support that our pine marten conservation work has received from individuals, organisations and communities across Dumfries and Galloway.

Some of the pine marten boxes.

"Our volunteers are looking forward to getting out in the forests over the coming months and installing these new homes ready for pine martens to

take up residence.”

Tom Leach, secretary of the Glenkens Mens Shed, said: “It has been a hectic time at the shed over the last couple of months. As well as introducing a lot of new equipment and re-organising the layout of the shed we had a visit from Dr Johnstone,

"She wanted the shed to become part of a project to produce nesting boxes for the Pine Marten population in the area. Members of the shed have, over the last couple of months, worked very hard to produce 20 nesting boxes. At times it has involved a lot of space juggling and adaptation, but

we persevered and on Friday, May 27, Stephanie and the D&GPMG came to collect the finished boxes.

"They were delighted by what the shed members had done. We look forward to hearing how well and quickly the Pine Martens colonise their new pads.

“On a general note, the shed is considering how we can get the best from what we have, possibly by extending our opening hours to a weekend and possibly evenings. In particular, the Wednesday afternoon Woodworking group is low on numbers and Bill Wiseman who leads the group would welcome people coming along between 2pm and 4 pm to find out what they can do. Come along and give it a try. We look forward to seeing you.”

The Glenkens Mens Shed is open in Balmaclellan on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, 9.30am-12.30pm. New members always welcomed, just drop by. Contact Tom Leach: [email protected] or Chris Jowsey: [email protected]

The Shed is also hoping to host the Dumfries and Galloway Men’s Sheds Network meeting at the Shed on Wednesday, June 29.

The Dumfries & Galloway Pine Marten Group den box project has been funded by the Kilgallioch Wind Farm Community Fund in Wigtownshire and the Galloway Glens Scheme in the Stewartry.

McNabb Laurie, Galloway Glens Team Leader, said: “With increasing numbers of sightings across Galloway of Pine Martens, this den box project

should work towards the further recovery of the species. Our congratulations go to all the volunteers in the D&G Pine Marten Group for getting the project underway and massive thanks to the Glenkens Mens Shed – themselves a previous recipient of a Galloway Glens grant – for making the boxes to such an impressive standard.

“The Galloway Glens Scheme is an initiative of the Council’s Environment Team, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and projects like this that connect us to and allow us to better understand our local heritage really do make a difference.”