Conservation charity Trees for Life will soon plant its millionth sapling, a milestone in its 250-year project to restore the native woodland habitat of the Highlands.
The millionth sapling is due to go into the ground in May. To mark the event the charity's founder and executive director Alan Watson Featherstone will be making a two-month lecture tour in March and April to highlight the work of the group restoring forests in the Highlands. He'll be speaking at venues form Ullapool to Devon.
'The lectures will be a celebration, and a positive and inspiring call to action. The story of Trees for Life's work to help restore the Caledonian Forest in the Highlands is one of overcoming great challenges, and shows how passion, belief and a positive vision can make a tremendous difference to our planet and to people too.'
'The planting of our Millionth Tree will be a major milestone in a 250-year project – that's how long it will take for mature trees to return to areas where there are none today. The tour is also aimed to galvanise further support for the next stage of our work and the planting of our next million trees.'
The lectures will include dramatic before and after images showing the changes that have taken place as the ancient forest returns. They will also Illustrate the significant positive effects that volunteers can achieve in helping to reverse forest loss – one of the critical environmental problems of our time.
Scots pine woods are thought to have once covered much of the Highlands, encompassing 1.5 million hectares at their maximum extent. By the 1980s, centuries of deforestation caused by farming, timber extraction and climate change had taken a huge toll, with only a tiny percentage of the former forest remaining. The extinction of large predators and present day land management practices that encourage an overpopulation of deer for commercial stalking ensure that most Highland glens now remain bare of trees.
As a result of this human-created imbalance in the ecosystem the remnants have become 'geriatric' forests composed of old trees reaching the end of their lifespans, with no new ones growing to take their place. As the trees die the forest continues to shrink, and without protection from overgrazing most of the remnants will disappear in the next few decades. We are the last generation with the opportunity to save the Caledonian Forest and restore it for the future, say the charity.
Since its founding in 1986 Trees for Life – whose vision is to restore Caledonian forest and its natural wildlife across a 900 square mile target area as a fully functioning ecosystem – has grown into an award-winning charity with a dedicated staff team, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters. In 2008 it bought the 10,000-acre Dundreggan Estate west of Loch Ness, one of the largest areas of land in the UK ever purchased for forest restoration. The charity's popular volunteer conservation holiday weeks offer the opportunity to gain practical conservation experience.
For more info see their website