This Fellowship will tap into in-depth Norwegian knowledge on mountain woodland restoration and explore new understandings and conceptual frameworks

Funding Amount:

NERC funded

A woman in a blue jacket stands on a hill doing an experiment

Project Summary:

A mountain valley on a clear day

Image by Richard Todd from Pixabay

Little is known about mountain woodland in the UK, and over recent centuries these native treescapes have been significantly reduced due to human activity, making them one of the rarest habitats in the UK. Yet restoration of these zones could play a key role in national treescape expansion and add structural diversity, climate resilience and new habitats for mountainous species.

There have been a few attempts at rescuing these zones recently, including a genetic rescue project that has so far planted over 4,300 montane willows around the Loch Avon Basin, a key mountain woodland expansion area in the Cairngorms, which includes several fragmented populations of nationally scarce downy willow. However, there is considerable uncertainty around the likely outcomes.

Throughout this fellowship, Ellie Dimambro-Denson will work alongside the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) to tap into Norwegian knowledge on mountain woodland restoration. Specifically, Ellie will focus on the establishment of three types of montane willows: downy willow, tea-leaved willow and grey willow, which NINA have worked to restore and monitor in their native mountain regions.

The learning and knowledge that could be gained through this partnership with NINA could help ensure the success of the Loch Avon Basin project and future projects of this kind.


Ellie Dimambro-Denson is the Monitoring Officer for Cairngorms Connect, a habitat restoration project over a 600km2 area of the Scottish Highlands. A large proportion of this role is in a ‘Species Indicator Project’, carrying out moth surveys to indicate habitat change across different altitudinal ranges. Her work is largely field based and has a focus on using saproxylic (deadwood) beetles as indicators of ecosystem function and habitat quality in deadwood creation and plantation restructuring projects and moths as species to indicate diversity across different stages of restoration. She also works on conservation solutions for vulnerable species including twinflower and montane willows and led a twinflower re-introduction project across Abernethy and Glenmore Forests in the autumn of 2020.

Twitter: @CairngormsCo


STATUS: Ongoing

Project Lead

Ellie Dimambro-Denson, Cairngorms Connect


Norwegian Institute for Nature Research