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MouseClip and Tree

Our Trees:The Caledonian Forest

Trees for Life is an award-winning charity working to help restore the Caledonian Forest, which formerly covered a large part of the Scottish Highlands. Just 1% of the original forest survives today, as isolated stands of mostly old trees. Since 1989 we’ve been helping to bring this forest back from the brink, both through natural regeneration and by planting trees. Our long term vision is to restore the forest, and all its constituent species, to a 600 square mile area west of Inverness, including our 10,000 acre Dundreggan Estate.  

 

Aspen Project

Trees for Life initiated an aspen project in 1991 as part of our work to help restore the Caledonian Forest in Glen Affric and the surrounding areas. Our observations had shown that the species only occurred in small stands, often widely separated from each other, and that little regeneration was taking place, because of grazing pressure, primarily by red deer. In addition, in the light of aspen's relatively poor ability to reproduce from seed (Worrell, 1995a, b), we recognised that, unlike other tree species such as birch, rowan etc., it was very unlikely to spread beyond the sites where it was already established.

To address these concerns, our aspen project has four main elements to it: surveying and mapping of existing stands; protection of ramets or suckers at existing stands to facilitate natural regeneration; propagation and planting of young aspens; and research into the ecology of aspen.

 

Woodland Ground Flora Project

The difference between a bunch of trees and woodland is the diversity of life that exists within the habitat created by the shady tree canopy. This diversity is due in no small measure to woodland ground flora which provides food and shelter for a range of invertebrate species. These in turn provide food for little carnivores like spiders, ants and centipedes and so the chain goes on with birds and small mammals feeding on those, hawks, owls and pine marten further up and so on. This is a very simplified glance at the complex web of life that can be woven around a few key species like woodland ground flora.

In our new planting projects many woodland species will not be present and the nearest seed source for them might be miles away. Thus it could take hundreds of years, in some cases, for these plants to colonise by natural means so we need to give nature a helping hand. Even in mature woodland, over grazing and changes in management practices have reduced diversity in the ground flora resulting in some species having become very rare or even absent when they should be common and abundant.

Trees for Life's Woodland Ground Flora Project seeks to enhance populations of plants which have become scarce in established woodland, species such as one-flowered wintergreen (Moneses uniflora), and twinflower (Linnaea borealis), and to establish populations of these plants, and more common species such as primrose (Primula vulgaris) and bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), in new woodland where these species are absent.

The project will involve surveys of established and new woodland sites, creating trial plots for species reintroduction, propagation of plants, researching suitable species and their growing conditions and liaising with other organisations involved in similar work.