- We recorded browsing pressure on 40 heath plots:
- 29% showed high browsing
- deer dung was present in 46%
- high browsing pressure was more evident around the edges of the recent wooded areas.
- We recorded an upward trend in the height of monitored native seedlings, but this growth is still a lot slower than it should be (around 1.5-1.7cm per year over 12 years recording).
- 128 seedlings were measured in 2021. To accelerate native woodland recovery, this data and the results from the browsing on heath plots have been used to inform an increased deer cull target on Nevis during 2021/22 and going forward.
- There was a high number of mountain ringlet butterflies recorded on Nevis in 2021, one of the highest counts since monitoring began in 2009.
Working with communities
- Six volunteer work parties were hosted on Ben Nevis in 2021. Together they helped remove 200 kgs of litter from the mountain, and 82 kgs of litter from Steall Gorge.
- Nine young people are taking part in the Junior Rangers Programme from the local high school (Lochaber). This year-long programme aims to give young people experience in working outdoors; and covers wildlife and habitat monitoring, land management, visitor engagement and even carbon capture.
- Six days of habitat management and visitor management skills tutoring were delivered by the Nevis team for students at the University of the Highlands and Islands West Highlands College (UHI WHC). Six students received their NQ Countryside Skills with Ranger Training qualification, alongside achieving their John Muir Explorer Awards.
Collaborating with partners
- The Nevis Landscape Partnership (NLP) transitioned into a community organisation with the Trust sitting on the Advisory Board. Previously, the NLP was comprised of landowners including the John Muir Trust, and other stakeholders. It ran in this capacity for 19 years, helping deliver collaborative impact for habitats and visitors on Nevis.
Wild places for all
- Five John Muir Trust/ Nevis Landscape Partnership Rangers spent the summer on the Ben, with funding from NatureScot’s Green Recovery Fund. From June to October the team:
- spent 172 days encouraging responsible camping
- dismantled and covered over 92 fire pits
- spent 81 days on the Ben Nevis mountain path clearing cross drains, removing litter, building revetments, and conducting visitor surveys.
- 43 days of work went into maintaining the Steall gorge path by contractors Stonescape.
- Major repairs were carried out when part of the Steall Gorge path collapsed. The path was closed for one week in September to allow for major repairs to be carried out by skilled contractors from ACT Conservation. 20 tonnes of rock were flown in by helicopter, and two large revetments (sloping structures built to halt erosion) were built to stabilise the path.
- The Nevis 21 campaign celebrated 21 years of the Trust looking after Ben Nevis, and reached its fundraising target of £100,000 to support our work on the UK’s highest mountain.
- Increase in deer management efforts to allow woodland regeneration to accelerate, and engage with neighbours to achieve this.
- Restore 1.2 hectares of damaged peatland.
- Repair eroded section of path on upper part of Ben Nevis.
- Carry out woodland feasibility study with specialists to assess opportunities for woodland expansion, and make develop proposals based on recommendations.
- Embed the Junior Ranger Programme in Lochaber High School’s Skills for Work programme and recruit next year's cohort.
- Continue to deliver practical tutoring for UHI WHC Countryside Skills with Ranger Training qualification.
- Review monitoring programme and establish baselines for habitats and species threatened by the climate emergency.