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Volunteer, minibus and seedlings

Volunteer with alder seedlings. Photo by Craig Dickson

Felling non-native trees

Lopping non-native species. Photo by Rosie Black

Putting up a fence. Photo by Rosie Black

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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.

Please visit our Tree Nursery Week and Wildlife Week pages for further information on these weeks.

Planting trees

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 Conservation Weeks
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.

Removing fences

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.

Wetland restoration

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.

Tree fertilising

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: Tuesday, 29-Oct-2013 12:37:44 CET

Collecting pine cones.

Working on nursery beds.

Planting a pine

Planting a pine. Photo by Craig Dickson.

Planting a pine

Ring barking a tree.

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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