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Newsletters Caledonia Wild! Spring 2006

Newsletter cover

Trees for Life magazine, Caledonia Wild!, Spring 2006

* Links to articles in other parts of this web site, rather than on this page.

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A Done Deal for Dundreggan

Juniper, pines and birches

Juniper, pines and birch on Dundreggan in early March. The forest there has a brighter future now!


Alan and an old granny pine

Alan with one of the old 'granny' pines on Dundreggan.

As this magazine goes to press, I'm delighted to report that Trees for Life has just clinched a deal to purchase the Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston! Thanks to a tremendous response from our members and supporters, and exceptionally generous donations from a few key people, we will shortly take title to most of the 10,000 acre (4,000 hectare) estate, together with an option to purchase the rest in January 2007.

This success represents a major breakthrough for our work to restore the Caledonian Forest, and is the culmination of 9 months of focussed effort by our staff, our board of directors and our land agent and solicitor. For me personally it is not just the outcome of a lot of hard work but, more importantly, it is the realisation of a vision that Trees for Life, and I in particular, have held for over 15 years - of having our own substantial area of land where we can restore the Caledonian Forest on a significant scale.

In 1995 we came very close to achieving that goal, when we raised all the money to meet the asking price for the Wester Guisachan Estate in Glen Affric, only to be outbid by another party. It's taken a long time to accomplish what we narrowly missed out on then, but as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Patience and persistence have definitely paid off, because Dundreggan offers a much greater opportunity for forest restoration than either Wester Guisachan or the other privately-owned estates in Glen Affric that were sold in the 1990s.

For me, our bid to purchase Dundreggan has been a real rollercoaster ride, full of twists and turns and emotional ups and downs, making it almost worthy of a television soap opera. However, I have always had the conviction in my heart that we would succeed, and all the support we have received from many, many people has been hugely affirmative.

One of the most satisfying and exciting aspects has been drawing on all of my experience, skills and contacts (in some cases going back 20 years) to bring together the many different contributions that are making the purchase possible. There have been numerous miracles along the way, with the right connections being made at a crucial moment, or someone stepping forward with just the funding we needed to help make the deal possible. It's been a remarkable learning experience for us all here, and has helped to move Trees for Life to a new level of effectiveness and operation.

The work of returning forest to much of Dundreggan will continue that process, as will our ongoing fundraising - we still need to find almost £350,000 for the second phase of the purchase. We'll have more news about both of those aspects in the next edition of Caledonia Wild!, but for the moment, on behalf of us all at Trees for Life, I'd like to give heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to this achievement. Because of your support, we've done a deal for the purchase of Dundreggan, and a great deal for the future of the Caledonian Forest there. Thank you!

Alan Watson Featherstone


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Aspen Project Update

Trunks of aspen trees on Dundreggan

Aspen trees on Dundreggan


Collecting aspen roots

Each spring aspen roots are collected - here by a participant in our Aspen Propagation Seminar in 2004 - for propagation at Plodda Lodge.

Since last summer, the Aspen Project has focussed mainly on Glen Moriston. We have found several new stands on the Dundreggan Estate, a number of which are on south-facing crags, a type of site where they frequently occur. Why are so many of the stands found in such locations? There are a number of theories, and the south-facing part seems straightforward - the extra sun makes a considerable difference to growth rate and health. Even so, further north, in Strathconon, many are found on north-facing slopes. It has been suggested that rocky slopes provides better drainage but we have also found them in fairly low-lying, wet sites.

The best explanation is that aspen are something of a delicacy to deer, and so are especially vulnerable to overgrazing. Rocky slopes and gullies are less accessible to deer, enabling stands of this tree to survive in isolation when more exposed stands in the vicinity may have long since perished.

We are also planning to create a large area of aspen on Dundreggan, as larger stands generally support a greater diversity of associated species. For example, the full community of deadwood-dependent aspen insects needs a minimum area of around 4.5 hectares of aspen, which can be interspersed with other trees. It will be interesting in the long term to see how a woodland of this kind might develop, and what species of fungi, insects, lichens etc will colonise it. This spring we have been collecting a lot of aspen roots from the area, which will be grown on at Plodda Lodge, for planting out next year.Last autumn we erected and planted some more small aspen fences down by the River Moriston. These were on a slow, winding stretch of the river that at some point in the future would make ideal habitat for the European beaver, which we hope will one day be restored to Scotland. Beavers have a strong preference for aspen as a winter food source, and by boosting the aspen population near the river, the area should become even better potential beaver habitat.

Further north, in Glen Carron, Ian Bailey and I planted 60 aspens to enhance a private Woodland Grant Scheme, while in Glen Affric, I have been surveying all the aspen stands we have planted, to see how well they are doing. The majority of the trees have survived, but there have been some losses. From these, we can get a clearer picture of what kinds of sites are best to plant in. Although we haven't yet had a scientific study into this (any offers welcome! - see Possible Research Projects), our initial observations suggest that the sunnier sites are much more successful. In addition, it appears that trees in areas of bracken are prone to being swamped. However, those that do get away grow exceptionally well, probably because of the better soils which the presence of the bracken signifies. By knocking the bracken back at these sites for a few years, it is likely that the aspen in these areas will really thrive.

Dan Puplett

The Trees for Life Aspen Project

Aspen Information Resource

Information about aspen in Scotland.


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Dundreggan Estate purchase update

Hillside in March

Birches and junipers on Dundreggan on a sunny day in March.

Under the agreement we've signed to purchase Dundreggan we are paying £1.3 million to take title to most of the estate in late April/early May. We then have an option to acquire the rest of the estate in January next year for a further payment of £350,000. Thanks to all the support we've received, we have enough funding for the first stage of the purchase, and also have a pledge of £5,000 for the second phase.

The appeal we ran with our last magazine, for the purchase of the Estate, was our most ambitious ever, and it has been very successful in bringing in £42,315 to date from our members and supporters. We're especially grateful to the Founders, who have given £200 or more each, and the Champions, who have donated £500 or more each. Further support totalling £11,180 has come as a result of inserting our fundraising leaflet in magazines such as The Ecologist, Reforesting Scotland and Permaculture.

We're very grateful for the wonderful donations we've received from so many people, and especially for the exceptional generosity of a few key individuals. Every contribution, no matter its size, has helped us reach our target for the first part of the purchase!

Now, we're preparing for the new step of becoming landowners of a substantial tract of land, and all the responsibilities that entails. We've begun the process of planning how we'll go about restoring the forest on Dundreggan, and this spring we've been collecting aspen roots, willow cuttings and Scots pine seed for propagating trees to be planted out on the estate. In the autumn we'll be doing further seed collections, and we will also be running some Conservation Holidays at Dundreggan - details of these will be posted on our web site in due course.

We're also planning a press conference to publicly announce the purchase and catalyse fundraising for phase 2, and a special celebratory event at Dundreggan itself. All the project Champions are warmly invited to attend the celebration, and we'll be sending out information about that in the coming weeks.

The next edition of Caledonia Wild! will include an extensive feature about Dundreggan and our plans for the restoration of the forest there. In the meantime, we'd like to express our sincere thanks to everyone who has made a donation towards the purchase - thank you so much!

Alan Watson Featherstone

Champions List

(Donations of £500 or more each)

A Hitch
Audrey & JJ Martindale Foundation
Alison Ryan
Alistair Findlater/Tycom
Andrew Tree
Andrew Barrs
Andy Rees
Angela Jewell
Angus & Isobel McBay
Anton Musset
Mr B McLeish
Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate
Carleton House Preparatory School pupils (Liverpool)
Caroline Evans
Chris Curry
Christie Elite
Daphne & Mike Brown
Diageo Suisse
Dick Johnson
Donald McRae
Dr John F Mackay
Dr William Brown
Duncan Ford
Felix Dennis
Giuseppe Di Girolamo
GMB Moser
Gordon McRuvie
Guy Riggs
Helen Bennett

Helen Leitch
Highland Renewal
Honor Mackenzie
Howard Stollar
Ian Rippon
I D Vickers
James McLardy
James Pirrie
Jan Rippon
Jo & Paul Jewwitt
The Philosophy in Action Foundation
John & Rosalind Grant-Robertson
John Talbott & Sam Graham
Jonathan Clarke
Joseph Kendall-Gale
Katrina Watson
K E Pittendrigh
L Waterston
M Killilea
Margaret Strick
Marian Peacock Pochin
Mark Preston
Megan & Parish family
Miles Witham
Mill Millichap
Mrs C. Menlove
Mrs. P.J. Willams
Muriel Gray
Murray Drummond

Natural Collection

Nigel & Jane Bagshaw
Norman E. Thomas
Norman Williams
Paul Osborn
Pauline Zibe
Peter Cairns
Peter Collins
Peter Cornish
Peter Fairhurst
Posthouse Printing
Restore UK
Richard Fraser Charitable Trust
Richard Preston
Robert Leech
Robert Pedley
Roy Greenhalgh
Roy Turnbull
Sara Jansson
Sarah Pethybridge
Sir Nicholas Nuttall
Steve and Fiona Clark
Steve Rogers
The McDonald Family
Thomas Brown in memory of Jennie Brown
Timothy Kaye
The Oak Foundation
The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
Valerie Garforth/FAWCO
W F Ball
Wendy Scott
William Record
Zˆe Hertzog & Martin Blount

Founders List

(Donations of £200 or more each)

A Crowther
A E Woodward
Albert Thomson
A M Jewell
Alastair Brockie
Alasdair Sim
Albert Thomson
Andrew Herman
Anne Marie Young
Anne Tennant
Annerose Berghauser
Antony Dick
Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland Annual Meeting 2007
Bob Cotterill
British Association of Urological Surgeons Annual Meeting 2007
The British Blood Transfusion Society 25th Annual Scientific Meeting
British Cardiovascular Society Annual Scientific Conference 2007
British Pain Society 2006
British Society for Immunology
British Society of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting 2007
BWEA29: The UK's leading renewable energy event
C S Wakeley
Camilla Newton
Caroline Mary Dalton
Charles Boyd
Chris Hinton
Clare Fenton
Colin L Payne
Crispin W Hayes
Derek John Jones
DF Concerts
Diabetes UK
Diabetes UK 2008 Annual Professional Conference
Dominick Spracklen
Douglas Peacock
D Rhodes
Dr & Mrs Desai
Dr & Mrs Warburton
Dr Douglas Kirk

Dr John Tindal
Dr John Watt
Dr Louise Eickhoff
Dr M E Holloway
Dr M P Sammes
Dr William Black
E D Clements
Elizabeth Wason
European Association of Neurological Societies 2007
6th Congress of the European Family Therapy Association and 32nd Association for Family Therapy and Systematic Practice UK Conference 2007
XVI European Stroke Conference 2007
17th Conference of the European Wound Management Association 2007
Erica Hudson
Evelyn Low
F Craigie
Fay Blackburn
Fiona Scott Morlon
The Gathering and CIVICUS World Assembly 2007
Gabi Wiederbusch
Gordon Dykes
Grant Macfarlane
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on Communications 2007
14th International Congress on Photosynthesis
XVI International Plant Protection Congress 2007
Iain Dresser
I Davison
Jaine R Dunning
James McLardy
Janet Bradshaw
JM Bradley
John F. Hunt
John Mackay
Judith Berry
Julian Noble
Kenneth O'Hara
Lawrence Spracklen
Lynn Wood
Maggie Nicol

Malcolm Nimmo
Margaret Irish
Marilyn Torr
Marine Publ Ltd- Paul Borrowman
Mark Toye
M.E. & R.E. Lord
Michael Tadlock
Moyra Ruffell
M Probert
Mr A Skelding
Mr B McLeish
Mr J Tyrell
Mrs M Bolton
Murray & Joan Dickson
Museums Association Annual Conference 2007
Owen Newman
Paul A Bristow
Paul L. Marshall
Philip & Myrtle Ashmole
Piers Voysey
Prof D H Lawson CBE
Richard Bennett
Richard Greenfield & Kirstin Lindberg
Robert C Pedley
Robert Deed
Robin Fairholm
Roderick Nicholson
Roger Doig
Rosalind M Thorne
Rose Adams & Family
Rosemarie Krockenberger
R Stuart-Sheppard
Sara Meaker
Sheila Bell
Shelley Latham
Society for Experimental Biology Annual Main Meeting 2007
XVII Soroptomist International Convention 2007
Steven Whitehouse
Stuart Taylor
Thomas Brown
Thomas Currie
Unicorn Grocery/ Heather Graham
William Macartney
Zoe Dickson


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Tree-mendous support from Standard Life!

Last year, Standard Life's Treemail promotion was launched as part of their demutualisation process. With offices worldwide and a strong commitment to social responsibility, we're very excited to be working with Standard Life and grateful for their support. The Treemail scheme to buy trees for email addresses reached its 100,000 target and that meant a fantastic donation of £100,000 to Trees for Life - our biggest single company donation to date.

We definitely couldn't let this pass without celebration and invited the head of corporate responsibility, Andrew Marshall-Roberts, up to Glen Affric to see our work in action and to plant the first of Standard Life's 100,000 trees in honour of their customers. A visit to Glen Affric is usually something to look forward to, but I have to admit I was just a wee bit apprehensive about a visit in early January. Despite the weather throwing everything at us, with horizontal sleet, gale force winds and a track that resembled an ice rink, we made it to the planting site and even managed to get a few photos! We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Standard Life and to Andrew Marshall-Roberts who took time out of his very busy schedule to plant the first tree.

Planting the first of Standard Life's trees

Planting the first of Standard Life's trees in Glen Affric. Left to right: Malcolm Wield of Forestry Commission Scotland, Andrew Marshall-Roberts of Standard Life, and Alan Watson Featherstone.
Photo by Graham Flack.

Andrew Marshall-Roberts presents Trees for Life with a cheque

Andrew-Marshall Roberts of Standard Life presenting Alan Watson Featherstone with the cheque for £100,000, in front of a photograph of Glen Affric in autumn.
Photo by Mandeigh Wells.


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Wedding groves go down a tree-t

Since our on-line Wedding Pages started last summer, 8 couples have taken Trees for Life to their hearts and opted for Trees instead of toasters as wedding gifts. Being natural romantics we are always delighted to hear from couples who are about to tie the knot and who want to make the Caledonian Forest a part of their wedding plans. A wedding grove is a long lasting gift and setting up a wedding page couldn't be easier, just email or phone us with the bride and groom's names, the date of the big day, a contact telephone and address and of course a great colour photo of the happy couple. Then we'll do the rest. Your page will be on our web site within 10 days and your friends and family will be able to donate directly to your very own grove via our secure ordering facility.


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Save the trees on DVD!


Our new DVD - why not order one today?

It's here, the Trees for Life 'Restoring the Caledonian Forest' video is now available on DVD (PAL DVD). As a special offer, the DVD is available for the bargain price of £8.50 including postage, if you order quoting the code CWDVD. Usual price £10.00 + postage! Phone the office to order, Tel: 01309 691292

See Caledonia Wild! magazines, for excerpts from other editions.

First published: May 2006. First published online, 7 November 2006.
Last updated: 14 December 2011

Trees for Life is an award winning conservation charity working to restore the Caledonian Forest
and all its species to a large contiguous area in the Highlands of Scotland.

Trees for Life is a registered charity Scottish charity No. SC021303, and a company limited by guarantee No. 143304 with its registered offices at Forres, Scotland.
VAT reg. No. 605079649
Photos © Alan Watson (unless otherwise indicated) - Banner Credits - Illustrations © Caragh McAuley

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