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Planting trees with Trees for Life

Update Dec 2019: Trees planted to date 549

Trees for Life is Scotland’s leading conservation volunteering charity. Founded in 1989, the vision is to restore Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest to the Scottish Highlands.

Trees for Life plant trees and restore wetland habitats on land which is intended for permanent forest restoration. Planting sites include Corrimony RSPB Reserve, Glen Affric National Nature Reserve, and land owned by Forestry Commission Scotland and National Trust for Scotland. In 2008, they purchased Dundreggan, an area of 10,000 acres of wild land near Loch Ness, to expand the forest restoration work. Almost all tree planting is carried out by volunteers, connecting people with Scotland’s nature whilst helping to ensure its future conservation.

The Sussex Promotions Grove

In 2007, Sussex Promotions started a Corporate Grove with Trees for Life, funding a total of 178 trees. The trees for the grove were planted by conservation volunteers at the Corrimony RSPB Reserve near Glen Affric. The grove comprises of native species, mainly Scots pine and birch with a mix of eared willow, alder and rowan, planted in natural distribution patterns. Once they reach seed-bearing age, natural regeneration will expand these trees into rich and diverse woodland which offers maximum benefits for biodiversity.

Progress at Corrimony

Corrimony was acquired by the RSPB to restore native Caledonian pinewood habitats to benefit rare birds, particularly black grouse, It consists of an upland site of 3,828 acres situated just over 20 miles south-west of Inverness. The reserve lies close to the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve and Dundreggan Estate. There are a number of habitats on the reserve including bog, heath, semi-natural birchwood and plantation woodland.

The intention of the management plan is to return around half of the reserve to native pinewood through a combination of active tree planting and natural regeneration, and to restore wetlands. Since forests and wetlands are both important carbon sinks, this conservation work will help to have a positive impact on climate change.

Since 1999, Trees for Life has worked in partnership with the RSPB to plant over 100,000 trees at Corrimony, including the Sussex Promotions Grove. Other conservation work has included removing non-native species and restoring the reserves mires and bog pools. As a result of expanded and improved habitat, the number of male black grouse has increased from 16 to 53. Surveys are also being carried out at Corrimony by Forest Research to monitor the effectiveness of the reserve for woodland carbon sequestration.

Why this conservation work is so important

The ancient Caledonian Forest once covered 3.7 million acres of the Highlands. It was Scotland’s equivalent of the rainforest, but has been reduced to just a tiny fraction of its former range. Most of the surviving forests now consist of old trees reaching the end of their lifespan, with no new trees replacing them because of grazing pressure from deer and sheep. As a result, many forest-dependent species are at risk of extinction in the UK.

Trees for Life plants trees in a target area of 1,000 square miles of mountains and glens to the west of Inverness. This work helps to expand and link native Caledonian pinewoods, creating a balanced healthy ecosystem where wildlife can roam freely again.

Planting trees and restoring wetlands makes a valuable contribution towards addressing the issue of global warming and gives our natural world the chance to adapt to climate change.

Trees for Life planted its one millionth tree in May 2012 and is now heading to 2 Million.