About the Work
No previous experience of volunteering or conservation work is necessary to participate in our Conservation Weeks, but you do need to have a reasonable level of fitness. Each task begins with an explanation and demonstration by the leaders, who will also cover the safety aspects you will need to bear in mind. We provide volunteers with all tools and safety equipment, such as hard hats and goggles, where necessary. All the work bears directly upon some aspect of forest restoration.
We plant trees in areas where the forest is unlikely to be able to regenerate itself because of the remoteness of the nearest seed sources. Planting usually takes place in exclosures, that is, within fences that prevent overgrazing by sheep and deer.
Please note that not all
will include tree planting.
Felling non-native trees
Many sites that are now designated for Caledonian Forest restoration were formerly plantations of spruce and lodge pole pine, which spread seed and grow more quickly than Scots pine. Left to their own devices, the plantation trees out-compete the native trees and it is this regeneration that we tackle, using bow saws and loppers. We only remove smaller trees and usually avoid working in plantations. Nearly all Conservation Weeks involve some non-native tree removal. Occasionally, we remove rhododendron where this invasive non-native shrub is endangering the native vegetation.
Where fences are no longer needed we remove them because they are an unnatural element in the landscape and pose a serious threat to birds such as the black grouse and capercaillie, which sometimes fly into them. Fence removal is a very popular and satisfying team activity as it is easy to see how much has been achieved in such a short space of time.
Tree nursery work
Activities at our tree nursery at Dundreggan include helping to propagate trees, making compost, weeding beds and more.
We have been using recycled plastic sheeting at various sites to dam the drainage ditches which were ploughed in for commercial plantations. This work encourages bog to re-establish, which helps create new habitat and restores lost biodiversity.
Collecting seeds and berries
We collect pine cones for their seeds in spring, while most other seeds and berries are collected in autumn. This is a leisurely activity that will take volunteers into beautiful mature forest.
Stock fencing and tree guards
Some sites we work at have resident, although controlled, deer populations. Here we put up small stock fences both to protect the planted trees and to safeguard the naturally occurring seedlings.
Surveying & monitoring
An important element of our work is monitoring various aspects of the forest habitat. This can include wildlife and vegetation surveys as well as following up on previous years’ planting projects.
As some of the land we plant on has been depleted of nutrients we supplement the planted trees with natural rock phosphate to encourage good root growth and aid the establishment of the young trees.
Last updated: Thursday, 29-Nov-2012 17:18:23 CET