Celebrations mark Mar Lodge Estate becoming UK’s largest nature reserve

See the UK's biggest and newest national nature reserve on BBC Countryfile this Sunday


BBC Countryfile presenter Joe Crowley helped mark the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate’s declaration as the newest and largest National Nature Reserve (NNR) in the episode transmitted on Sunday 26 November.


Joe was joined by Trust staff, volunteers and Chairman Sir Moir Lockhead, as well as Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Deputy Chair Sue Walker and people from the local community, for the celebration at the Linn of Dee in the heart of the stunning Aberdeenshire estate.


The popular programme spent two days on the UK’s largest nature reserve, filming a series of stories showcasing its varied habitats, wildlife and conservation work. These will be broadcast at 18.20 on Sunday 26 November on BBC ONE.


The BBC also filmed activity by local school children to highlight the importance of engaging the local community in the long-term vision and day-to-day management of the new NNR.


A sign made from larch and inscribed with the words ‘Mar Lodge Estate, National Nature Reserve’ was unveiled by Joe and pupils from Braemar Primary School as the filming came to an end.


Mar Lodge Estate was designated an NNR earlier in 2017, along with fellow National Trust for Scotland property Glencoe. Mar Lodge Estate, which has been in the protection of Scotland’s largest conservation charity since 1995, takes over from the Great Trossachs Forest NNR as the UK’s largest reserve. Its landscape is varied and includes four of Scotland’s five highest mountains, a fertile river valley, heather moorland and wetlands, as well as a regenerating Caledonian pine forest. It is rich in wildlife, home to red deer, golden eagles, hen harriers, grouse and many other species.


David Frew, Operations Manager at Mar Lodge Estate said:

“Being recognised as a National Nature Reserve is so important for both Mar Lodge Estate and the National Trust for Scotland. The estate contains a huge diversity of wildlife, and the accolade recognises the progress made over the last 20 years in managing the property to allow recovery and regeneration of the Caledonian pine forest, bringing benefits for wildlife and people alike. We hope that this new status will raise awareness of all that Mar Lodge has to offer and will encourage many more visitors to come and experience this amazing landscape and learn more about the work our charity does to protect it.”

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform said:

Mar Lodge is a special place and my congratulations go to the National Trust for Scotland for gaining this accolade. This status will help to raise awareness of the rich landscape this cherished area has to offer. We are already witnessing the biodiversity benefits which careful land management in these areas is delivering and I look forward to seeing that work continue in the years ahead.”


Sue Walker, SNH deputy chair, said:

“We’re delighted that Mar Lodge Estate has become the UK’s newest, as well as largest, National Nature Reserve. Mar Lodge Estate is being recognised for its outstanding nature and the opportunities it provides for people to come and enjoy it. The site represents some of the finest natural visitor experiences that Scotland has to offer. It is particularly pleasing to see the encouraging signs of regeneration, with a whole new generation of trees emerging from the heather as the Caledonian pinewood recovers.”