"John Martin has been helping with The Vincent Wildlife Trust’s (VWT) pine marten work since 2000. John has worked with VWT to establish and monitor several den box schemes, and has recently made den boxes for the VWT, which have been to a very high standard. John has also helped with pine marten population monitoring and distribution surveys led by the VWT. We always enjoy working with John and he operates in a professional and friendly manner, with great attention to detail. John has comprehensive knowledge of pine marten research, monitoring methods and conservation interventions, and is always happy to share this with others. We look forward to continuing working with John in the future."

Lucy Roger, Chief Executive Officer, The Vincent Wildlife Trust

“Having worked closely with John Martin on pine marten conservation for the past 15 years I am delighted to recommend his den box service to anyone with an interest in monitoring pine martens and enhancing their habitat.  John’s highly successful development and testing of den box designs in our joint Galloway Forest Pine Marten Project (in collaboration with Forest Enterprise Scotland) illustrates his rare blend of innovation, craftsmanship and technical skill; his use of recycled materials wherever possible is laudable; and his constant refinement of approaches to installation and checking of the boxes reflects his urge to achieve the highest standards of Health & Safety and animal welfare.  Through the provision of sheltered, elevated den sites where these are currently scarce or absent, John’s boxes are already benefitting pine martens in Britain, Ireland and France.  I fully expect them to play an important part in sustaining and monitoring the future recovery of this charismatic mammal.

Johnny Birks, Principal Ecologist, Swift Ecology Ltd.”

In France, the pine marten is present in the majority of forested areas, abundant in the eastern half of the country, more irregularly distributed in the western half. The pine marten is a game species, and on a departmental scale, can be classified as pest species with a three-year renewal period.

In the north of France, in the former Nord Pas de Calais (NPDC) region, only 9 % of the territory is covered by forest, and is the lowest rate in France (31% on average). The pine marten is there on the northern range of its French distribution. The NPDC region has hence chosen the species to be the object of a regional restoration plan, as part of its regional biodiversity strategy.

The restoration plan was written by the CMNF (Coordination Mammalogique du Nord de la France) in 2014. The use of den boxes seemed to be an efficient tool to assess the distribution of the pine marten, its diet and other biological parameters in the NPDC. After discussing with John Martin the regional context and the characteristics of our forested areas, it was decided to use the VWT den box design in France. Noeux Environnement, a trust for social integration through work, built 7 boxes, with the support of the Nature & Découvertes Foundation.

In January 2018, the boxes were erected in suitable sites, 5 in the forest of Mormal managed by the French forestry agency (Office National des Forêts - ONF), and 2 in the woodland of Nostrimont, managed by the County Council (Département du Nord). Johnny Birks and John Martin helped with preparing the boxes, choosing the best location and the best tree among a selection of parcels that won’t be harvested in the next years. They provide advice on practical details such as the orientation of the box, the distance to particular elements such as public footpaths. After demonstrating the hoisting technique and equipment, we were ready to climb and fix the boxes.

Automatic camera traps will be set to monitor the boxes occupancy.

We thank all the partners: Johnny Birks, John Martin, Noeux Environnement, ONF, GON, Fondation Nature & Découvertes, Département du Nord.

Claire Poirson Pine marten project officer for the CMNF

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