Both timber-producing and naturally-regenerating: typically 190-600 metres above sea level

Below around 550 metres (1,804 feet) above sea level, the more temperate climate makes for sustainable woodland survival.

Black Grouse taken at Invercauld Estate (C) (Steven Rennie)
Black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) is a large bird of the grouse family


Where moorland meets woodland is perhaps the richest of habitats with the greatest biodiversity. Black grouse love this area. The male cocks come alive in spring when they face off against each other at mating rituals (leks), thrusting their stunning plumage into the air in a bid to intimidate their opponents. Capercaillie, though few in number nowadays, can occasionally be seen at their own leks, deeper in pine woodlands where their favoured habitat lies. Roe buck stalking also takes place in spring, providing both sport and management of the woodland environment.

Scots pine on Meall Alvie. (C) Angus McNicol / Invercauld Estate
Scots pine on Meall Alvie

Summer and Autumn

Our native Scots pine and birch are the predominant species of tree at Invercauld although alder, willow and aspen can also be found along with several other species. The broadleaved species tend to burst into green rather coming into leaf over time like their lower-lying counterparts. Timber is an important product for the Estate and summer is the best time for harvesting as relatively dry conditions minimise impact to the ground.

Tree planting is undertaken in late autumn to take advantage of wetter conditions that enable saplings to become established in what can be dry soils. Wood ants scurry around forming their anthills, hundreds of which cover the pine woodlands on the Estate.

Pine Marten
A Pine marten hunting in winter


The woodland may seem quieter in the winter but it does not sleep. Deer seek shelter from the weather whilst pine martens, whose numbers have increased in recent decades, have no need to hibernate due to their warm, furry coats. Red squirrels, unthreatened at Invercauld by their non-native grey cousins, hunt for the pine seeds they stashed away during the summer. Foxes are hunted on foot, following tracks in the snow, to keep their numbers in check before the following spring.