Glen Affric Forest Landscape Project, Scotland

Trees for Life has the goal of restoring the Caledonian Forest, and all its constituent species of flora and fauna to the Scottish highlands. Trees for Life enlists volunteers of all ages in the practical work to achieve this, to provide a powerful and educational experience for people that will promote the work of restoration and lead to increased support for the return of the forest.

The native pinewoods in Glen Affric represent one of the largest and last remaining fragments of Caledonian Forest in the UK, supporting over 1,000 wildlife species including golden eagles, pine martens and red squirrels. However, there are many old and dying trees, as excessive grazing pressure has prevented the growth of young trees. This project will engage outdoor users in practical action to reverse the loss of forest. Hands-on restoration work will be undertaken through forest skills courses, volunteer conservation days and weeks, planting 20,000 native trees, removing non-native trees and invasive species, and undertaking restoration of high-altitude montane scrub habitat. The core purpose of Trees for Life is to restore the Caledonian Forest, and all its species of flora and fauna. By providing a positive example working in partnership with nature and demonstrating ecological restoration techniques, it aims to inspire similar projects elsewhere in the UK and around the world.

The Update

Since the end of 2014 when the project started, the Glen Affric project has
* Researched and planned activities to engage schools, local communities and visitors to Glen Affric, with the aim of delivering this part of the project in 2016
* Piloted activities for the Forest Discovery Days in 2016
* Liaised with partner organisations, local schools and community groups
* Delivered some Conservation Days, Forest Skills programme & Conservation Weeks which included fence marking to protect black grouse from fatal collisions, planting 1200 cuttings of rare eared willow, building stock fences, planting 60 aspen, removing non native trees, monitoring black grouse populations and surveying the twinflower)
* Engaged all three local schools through specially commissioned teaching materials, which focused on learning about the Caledonian Forest through first hand outdoor experiences, linking with the local community and exploring Gaelic in the Landscape.
* Delivered 11 conservation weeks based at Trees for Life’s recently renovated cottage at Athnamulloch (120 people involved in total)
* Worked with partner organisations to engage local communities and visitors to Glen Affric -through a Bioblitz weekend and at the celebratory opening of Athnamulloch Cottage (attracting around 60 people and finding a total of 328 species, including 52 types of moth and butterfly, 23 trees and 31 birds).
* Delivered four Forest Discovery Days (guided walks) to local school pupils & members of the community (94 people)
* Involved school pupils in interpretative design of leaflets & a display panel
* Continued to pioneer techniques to propagate montane tree species and rare ground flora
In all, 320 people from local communities were engaged in hands-on forest restoration work in Glen Affric to expand native forests and wildlife habitats for rare species and a total of 20,330 trees were planted.

Image: Glen Affric Landscape