Peter Cairns • Scotland: The Big Picture II

Scotland: The Big Picture is a team of photographers and filmmakers creating high-impact communications to ignite fresh thinking around the benefits of a wilder Scotland. In the second of a two-part feature, Peter Cairns makes the case for an ecologically richer landscape

My eye is drawn by the tiny green-headed pines poking their heads nervously above the heather, like prey wary of predators. It’s not that pines are unusual in Scotland but young pines, or at least those growing in such profusion, are conspicuous in a wider landscape largely bereft of any trees. These tentative pioneers are the building blocks for a future forest.

Secreted away in the south-western corner of the Cairngorms, the rampaging waters of the River Feshie carve an ever-shifting channel with no respect for property or boundaries. Geriatric trees, partly submerged in sand and gravel, litter the riverbed, testament to the power of these waters in full spate. Alongside the uprooted titans, lie fledgling trees. Unable to gain sufficient traction in the sandy soils, these youngsters have succumbed to the river but their presence is nevertheless significant in a country retaining just 2% of the forest that once dominated the landscape.

For decades Glenfeshie has been regarded by many as a jewel in the Cairngorms crown. Gnarly ageing pines, steep-sided gravelly hills and plentiful red deer, made this glen quintessentially Scottish. Beneath the idealised exterior, however, lies a...

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About Author

Peter Cairns

Based in the heart of the Cairngorms, Peter Cairns is an award-winning nature photographer with over 10 years’ professional experience under his belt. He is a founding director of The Wild Media Foundation, the social enterprise behind the 2020VISION multimedia project.

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