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Tiny fungi on log in Strathfarrar

Growing inside the special exclosure we put up on Dundreggan in 2002, this is one of the tallest dwarf birch plants on the estate. With your help now, we’ll enable lots more to grow like this.  

Dead pines in Strathfarrar.jpg

Steve Morris, our Operations Manager at Dundreggan, with a large spreading patch of healthy dwarf birch, growing in another area that was fenced in 2002. 

Old Scots pine in Strathfarrar.jpg

This sawfly larva (Nematus pravus) had never been recorded in the UK until it was found at Dundreggan in 2011. Along with 2 other sawfly species and a rare micro-moth, it lives only on dwarf birch, so its future is dependent on protection and restoration of this special habitat.  

Dead Scots pine

Dwarf birch, seen here with reindeer lichen, changes colour to beautiful shades of yellow and red in autumn.  

Some more of the Scots pines that were planted on West Affric in the 1990s by our volunteers, photographed in June 2012.

Steve Morris with another healthy dwarf birch growing in the fenced area which has been protected since 2002. 

Appeals for Funds
Please help us restore the ‘wee trees’ of the forgotten forest!

We have an unrivalled opportunity at Dundreggan to restore tree-line woodland, which supports a unique assemblage of species, so please make a donation now to our Return of the Wee Trees appeal!

Dear Supporter,

Thanks to the generous donations we’ve received from supporters like you, our Million More Trees project is off to a great start. To achieve that ambitious Million Trees target, we need to build on this initial success and keep our momentum going forward, so I’m writing today to ask for your help with an exciting project that’s very close to my heart – the restoration of the ‘wee trees’ that form the natural tree-line, where woodland gives way to open moorland.

Potential for natural regeneration
Potential for natural regeneration

This is the difference you can help us make! Overgrazed dwarf birch in an unprotected area at Dundreggan (left) contrasts with a healthy plant, covered in catkins, inside the fence we put up on Dundreggan in 2002 (right).

Consisting of trees at their altitudinal limit, and specially-adapted species such as dwarf birch, the natural tree-line should be a miniature, waist-high woodland, rich in insects, fungi, mosses and lichens. In Britain today, however, it has become a ‘forgotten forest’, as there is so little of it left, all overgrazed and in poor condition, and most people are unaware of its existence. At Dundreggan, though, we have one of the greatest concentrations of dwarf birch in Scotland, and this provides a unique opportunity for us to restore the complete tree-line community, and all its species.

In 2002, we fenced an area of dwarf birch for the previous owner, to protect it from grazing by deer. Ten years later, the results are astonishing. Dwarf birches are growing healthily above the surrounding vegetation, with abundant catkins, and supporting a unique assemblage of species. This includes a rare moth that’s a priority for conservation in Scotland, and 3 different sawflies, 2 of which were unknown in the UK until their discovery at Dundreggan. The extra habitat created by these taller plants is also the home for spiders, caterpillars and many other insects.

The wee trees are the crucial woodland link between the glens

Most of the Caledonian Forest remnants, such as those in Glen Affric and Glen Moriston, are isolated from each other. At Dundreggan, by restoring the wee trees of the mountain forest, we can create a vital woodland link between the glens, providing an expanded habitat for many species. Healthy dwarf birch will also benefit black grouse living along the woodland edge, and ptarmigan and golden plover on the upland moors. We are aiming to raise £12,000 for the next phase of our work with dwarf birch, but as it’s not eligible for funding from conventional forestry grant schemes, I’m asking you, and all our other supporters, to make a donation and help us reach the target for this important and exciting project.

Many insects that utilise dwarf birch will benefit from this project, including moths (left), caterpillars (centre left) and sawfly larvae (centre right), while the dwarf birches will produce more flowers (right).

With your help now, we’ll restore one of the best populations of dwarf birch in the UK.

With a PhD student from Queen Mary University in London just beginning a 3 year research project on dwarf birch in partnership with us, this is the perfect time to expand our work for the species. Here’s what your support can help us with:

  • Plant out dwarf birch grown in our specialist tree nursery to expand dwarf birch habitat and create one of the best areas of mountain woodland in the UK. £15 will pay for 3 new dwarf birch plants.

  • Fence a new area of dwarf birch at Dundreggan and allow it to grow freely again, to benefit some of our rarest wildlife. £50 will pay for 5 metres of deer fencing.

  • Support innovative research to test new ways of planting and protecting dwarf birch, and use our findings to influence dwarf birch restoration work across Scotland. £100 will help to meet the costs of further specialist biodiversity surveys and research projects for dwarf birch.

Implementing these projects will make a significant and positive difference to the tree-line woodland at Dundreggan, and will put Trees for Life in the forefront of restoration work for dwarf birch and mountain woodland in Scotland. It will also be a key step in one of my long-held goals - the establishment of a woodland corridor, or Forest Habitat Network, between Glen Affric and Glen Moriston.

Your donation can make all the difference!

I’ve been spending a lot of time with the dwarf birch on Dundreggan recently, and I’m very excited about the great potential to help restore the forgotten forest of wee trees there. We’ve also got several thousand dwarf birch seedlings in our nursery, which will be ready for planting next year. All that’s missing is the funding to help make this happen, and that’s why I’m asking for your support now. Please send a donation today, and help us give new life to the tree-line.

Donations can be made simply and easily using the link below. My heartfelt thanks for any contribution you can make - it will help to give the forgotten forest a memorable future!

Yours sincerely,
Signature: Alan Featherstone
Alan Watson Featherstone
Executive Director

PS. The ‘wee trees’ of the mountain woodland are a vital part of our Million More Trees project. Even a wee donation will make a big difference for their future!


Please follow the link below to make a donation to the Million More Trees Appeal via our secure server.

We can also take your donation by phone: tel. 0845 458 3505. Thank you.

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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