7th May 2020
A team of six people from Trees for Life have voluntarily spent the last 6 weeks in the middle of nowhere. They are near Loch Ness, in their flagship Dundreggan rewilding estate, since 23 March to save more than the native young trees from being lost. For this reason, six youngs isolate in Highlands to save trees. It is another story about how to spend the lockdown.
Young isolate in Highlands to save thousands of trees
The trees have all been grown carefully from seed in Dundreggan’s specialised nursery and were due for planting out on the hills this spring. They include species such as Scots pine, rowan, juniper, hazel, holly and oak, as well as rare mountain species. Sure some of them would have a good performance in the #UrbanTreeWorldCup.
Dozens of volunteers help to propagate and grow over 60,000 trees a year at the nursery, from seed collected across the estate. They plant the trees out at Dundreggan and other Highland sites to restore Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest and its unique wildlife. This is one of the initiatives across the country for planting.
Doug Gilbert, Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Manager, said: “We were all set for another busy season. We were preparing thousands of young native trees for planting on the hills by our volunteers when the coronavirus crisis forced the postponement of this spring’s tree planting. This meant that tens of thousands of young trees have not left our nursery as planned”.
“But nature isn’t in lockdown. All these precious trees have been coming into leaf, and we need to take care of them. Especially in the dry weather we’ve been having. Without regular watering, they would all die. We also needed to start sowing new seed now, to ensure a supply of trees for future planting seasons”.
When the government announced the lockdown Doug and his colleagues opted to isolate in Highland to save thousands of trees.
Just leave the farm for essential trips
Doug and his colleagues aren’t leaving Dundreggan except for a few essential reasons, such as collecting prescriptions. Food is arriving at the rewilding estate via supermarket deliveries.
Doug added: “The local Redburn Cafe has started local takeaways, so they’re an occasional treat! No one has visited us for weeks now, except delivery drivers and the postie. We’re here in isolation for the long-haul if needs be – together with a growing forest for the future.”
Besides its forest restoration site, Dundreggan is a biodiversity hotspot, with over 4,000 plant and animal species. Discoveries include several species never recorded in the UK before, or previously feared extinct in Scotland.
Trees for Life plans to open the world’s first rewilding centre at Dundreggan in 2022. This is expected to welcome over 50,000 visitors annually – allowing people to explore the landscapes. Aside from discovering Gaelic culture and learn about the region’s wildlife.
Trees for Life is dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands. So far, its volunteers have established nearly two million native trees at dozens of sites. This, and other projects in Scotland, encourages wildlife as the main attraction to tourists.