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Aspen tree


Loch Bein


Ants nest under trees

Wood ants' nest under pines


Silver birch trunks


What we've accomplished

We've been implementing our vision and strategy through practical work on the ground since 1989, and some of our most significant accomplishments are listed below. Or take a closer look at the practical results of our work.

Riverside aspens
  • More than 1 million Scots pines and native broadleaved trees have been planted by our staff and volunteers.

  • We've created 4,000 hectares of new Caledonian Forest and have worked at 45 different locations across our Project Area.

  • Over 150,000 naturally regenerating Scots pine seedlings and other native trees have been protected from overgrazing by fences which we've funded.

  • We've funded the fencing of 458 hectares (1,132 acres) of land for forest regeneration and expansion.

  • In 2008, we purchased the 10,000 acre (4,000 hectare) Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston, and are now implementing a major programme of forest restoration there. See Dundreggan

  • We've carried out forest restoration work at numerous other sites in our target area, including Glen Moriston, Achnashellach, Grudie Oakwood in Strathbran and the Corrimony Nature Reserve in Glen Urquhart.

  • We've initiated special projects for the regeneration of rare trees in the forest, such as aspen, and for specific threatened parts of the forest ecosystem, including the montane shrub community and riparian or riverside woodland.

  • In 1991, in recognition of our work, we were declared the UK Conservation Project of the Year in an annual competition run by the Conservation Foundation.

  • In 2000, after 5 years of monitoring and assessment, Trees for Life received the prestigious Millennium Marque Award which was given to projects which 'demonstrate environmental excellence for the 21st century'.

  • In 2009, our programme of Conservation Holiday volunteer weeks was named one of the Top 10 Conservation Holidays worldwide by BBC Wildlife magazine.

  • In 2001, our founder and Executive Director, Alan Watson Featherstone, received the celebrated Schumacher Award for 'his inspirational and practical work on conserving and restoring degraded ecosystems'.

  • We propagate all the native trees in Caledonian Forest in our own nursery at Dundreggan, concentrating particularly on the scarcer species, such as hazel, holly, juniper etc, which are difficult to obtain from other sources.

  • Over a thousand volunteers, from teenagers to seventy year-olds, have taken part in our forest restoration work. Coming from both the local area, and as far away as Canada, Argentina and Australia, the volunteers receive a powerful experience of working together in a group with like-minded people to do something practical and positive for the planet. See Conservation Holidays in the Scottish Highlands.

  • Over a period of several years, we've carried out the most extensive surveys in Scotland for dwarf birch, a key component of the montane shrub vegetation community. This is part of our programme to facilitate the regeneration and recovery of this community, which has been almost entirely eliminated in Scotland by overgrazing and burning.

  • We run the largest programme of aspen propagation in Scotland, growing this rare species from root cuttings for planting out in the Highlands. We've also carried out an extensive survey of our target area for aspen trees, having mapped out 352 sites where it occurs.

  • In 1993 we produced a 30 minute film about the Caledonian Forest and our work to restore it. This inspiring educational resource illustrates the beauty and diversity of the forest, and is designed to communicate our vision of returning it to a large area in the Highlands.

  • We acted as a catalyst for the purchase in 1993 by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) of the West Affric Estate, which encompasses the entire headwaters of the Affric River. In partnership with NTS we are working to facilitate forest restoration on West Affric, through a series of exclosures for natural regeneration, some planting of native trees and a reduction of deer numbers.

  • In 1995 we produced a special educational pack for schools, entitled 'The Disappearing Forest', featuring worksheets on the importance of trees, and a story to colour about a wolf and a bear, who lose their homes as the forest disappears. These were distributed to every primary school in the Grampian and Highland regions of Scotland. An updated and revised edition of this pack, retitled 'The Fantastic Forest', and now including a beaver in the story, was reprinted in 2000.

  • We work in close cooperation with other organisations, seeking to establish a coherent, integrated strategy and action for forest regeneration. In particular, we have been working with Forestry Commission Scotland, since 1989 to expand the area of native pinewoods in Glen Affric. We also work in cooperation with The National Trust for Scotland and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on their lands which fall within our target area, as well as with private land owners.

  • In 1996 we purchased Plodda Lodge, near Glen Affric, and this field base houses some of our Conservation Holiday groups and our own native tree nursery.

  • Further afield, our vision and practical work have played an important role in inspiring several other projects to become established - the Carrifran project, which aims to restore native forest to an entire valley in the Borders region of Scotland; Moor Trees, which aims to restore native forest to Dartmoor in the southwest of England; and the Yendegaia project in Tierra del Fuego, Chile, where a substantial area of land which is the same distance from the equator as the Caledonian Forest has been purchased for the restoration of its degraded forests and protection of its wilderness qualities.

  • Since 1988 we have been publishing the annual Trees for Life Calendars and Diaries. Combining outstanding photographs with detailed information about trees, these high quality publications provide a unique global perspective on the world's forests, the threats they face and the conservation organisations working to protect them.

Published: October 2008
Last updated: 30 December 2013

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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