Flora

Scotland’s native tree species (trees natural to this country) can be classified into six main types:

  • Lowland Mixed Broadleaved woods
  • Upland mixed Ashwoods
  • Upland Oakwoods
  • Upland Birchwoods
  • Native Pinewoods
  • Wet Woodlands

Much of the Achany forest is made up of coniferous trees, such as Pine, Spruce and Larch. `Softwood‘ comes from these types of trees.

Coniferous trees are cone bearing and often have needle-like leaves. These needles make them particularly well suited to the colder climate in Scotland.

These trees at Achany Forest have grown well and are now about 20 metres tall and ready for felling.

Broadleaved trees such as Oak, Beech and Ash produce `hardwoods‘. These shed their leaves in autumn to ensure survival in the winter.

The forest is now being managed to increase the presence of these broadleaf trees, to create a more varied and interesting forest.

Most of the timber from Achany Forest is converted into construction timber for making timber framed houses.

The smaller trees are either made into fence posts or go to the strand board mill at Dalcross for conversion to Oriented Strand board, which is used for flooring and shuttering.

Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris

The famous Scots Pine is a native of the once Caledonian Pine forests and it is our only native timber producing conifer.

It has the amazing ability to regenerate and thrive in poor soils and as a result is grown extensively throughout northern Europe, Asia, Spain and its native Scotland.
Its blue green needles are found in pairs and it tends to lose lower branches when it matures at 36m, producing a characteristic shape for the species

Its timber, know as ‘red deal’ is strong and was originally used for ship masts, as well as a source of turpentine, resin, tar and charcoal. Today, it is used for building, furniture, boxes, fences and paper pulp.

Norway Spruce
Picea abies

This is best known for being the traditional Christmas tree. It has pointed mid- green needles standing on tiny pegs and long cylindrical brown cones.

It is used for building and paper, but its unique sound transmitting properties make it well suited for certain parts of violins, hence its nick name ‘violin wood’. The violin or `fiddle‘ is an extremely popular traditional Highland instrument featuring extensively in local music.

Ash
Fraxinus excelsior

These trees can reach up to 40m and during winter produce distinctive black buds, which produce dense clusters of small purple flowers.

Believed to have mystical and medicinal properties, this wood is a natural shock absorber, which makes it ideal for such things as tool handles, oars, floors, hockey sticks and rackets.

In Norse mythology a mighty Ash was the tree of life and its wood was burned to drive out evil spirits.

Silver Birch
Betula pendula

Reaching about 15m, this tree has drooping branches and it has a distinctive silvery white upper bark that is paper like and peels.

Also Rowan, Oak, Willow, Aspen, Holly.
Plants (waiting for info )

The peat moorlands, bogs, rivers, forest and mixed woodland have resulted in a great diversity of mosses, fungi, liverworts, ferns as well as wild flowers.

Fungi often form a dense mat around the tips of tree roots, where they extract the nutrients from the soil for the tree to use, with the tree then providing the fungi the food they need to survive, this is know as a symbiotic relationship.

Aspen

Aspen trees are a rare commodity, with only 12 sites in Scotland where there are over 4 hectares of mature trees; Achany Forest is one of those. Within these sites there are a range of species which are very rare. These include Aspen Bracket fungus, Blunt- leaved brittle moss, large poplar longhorn beetle and Dark bordered Beauty Moth.

One of the most important species is Hammerschmidtia ferruginea also known as Aspen Hoverfly. Achany Glen is found to contain them. The forestry commission is looking to manage the site to provide ideal conditions for the hoverfly by creating a steady supply of deadwood whilst also allowing new Aspen growth to take place.

WILDLIFE

Fish
The River Shin is home notably to Atlantic salmon. These migratory fish are found in the temperate and arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They migrate from the sea into fresh waters to spawn. There is only one species of Atlantic salmon: Salmo salar. They can grow to large sizes, with those recorded in Scottish rivers growing up to 64lbs.

Also found in the River Shin are brown trout and sea trout, eels, lampreys and sticklebacks. While the salmon leaves the sea to come to fresh water, the common eel leaves fresh water to spawn in the Sargasso Sea.

Birds

At certain times of the year at Falls of Shin you can often spot migratory birds such as redstarts, spotted flycatchers, wood and willow warblers. As winter approaches many species move into Achany Glen to benefit from the River Shin habitat, such as Geese, Whooper Swans and Goldeneye ducks from Scandinavia, which have begun breeding in this area and unlike many other ducks can spring instantaneously from the water. On a late winter morning you might hear soft, sweet warbling tones of the Redwing Thrush or the chuckling chack of the Fieldfare.

The resident birds at Falls of Shin include,
Chaffinches
Robins
Merganser ducks (easily recognisable by its blood red beak and legs)
Heron

While visiting Falls of Shin you could have the unique opportunity to see some birds of prey, such as Buzzards which will soar for hours and resemble a small Golden Eagle. Scotland, unlike much of south east England (due to the increase in insecticides in the 1960) is home to small groups of Sparrowhawks. Falls of Shin is also home to Tawny Owls and Long-Eared Owls, which are exclusively nocturnal and in nesting season, can be located by their soft, tremulous yodelling.

Occasionally in summer you might catch a glimpse of an Osprey as they prey almost exclusively on fish, which hovers over the river before plunging down feet first to seize its catch with its talons. Ospreys were hunted to extinction during the last century, but after one pair returned to Scotland, care has been taken to encourage breeding.

While by the river you might see the Dipper, which can amazingly ‘walk’ underwater on the river bed.

Mammals

As the ancient forests have been cleared away many of the creatures that once lived there have disappeared such as the bear, the lynx, boars and the beaver, although this may be reintroduced in the future.

Falls of Shin and the surrounding area provides excellent habitats for the native animals and during summer you are likely to spot stags high on the hills, with the hinds and calves on the remote glens. While following one of the forest trails you can often spot distinctive Sika deer and the smaller Roe deer, as they often take shelter, seeking seclusion amongst the trees. The Red deer have grown in size and numbers with the disappearance of their natural predator, the wolf.

A large number of animals have remained and flourished, foxes thrive on the large rabbit population, there are also mountain hares, which like the stoats grow white coats in winter. The forest is home to a variety of animals, though they are quite shy and easily disturbed, sightings of pine martens, mice, wildcats, badgers and shrews may not be guaranteed. The rare native Red squirrel is also found, however it seems their numbers are sadly declining.

The Falls of Shin Logo. A tartan oval with a leaping salmon in the centre. The 'Naturally Excellent' tag line below.