The ancient Caledonian pinewoods along the eastern stretches of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve are the largest expanse of least disturbed forest in the UK, attracting over 130,000 visitors every year. In contrast, the western half of Glen Affric is largely treeless. It is recognized that more work is urgently needed to expand native forests into this part of the glen, and in the longer term, develop a forest habitat corridor to the west coast.
In 2015, with support from the European Outdoor Conservation Association and a number of Charitable Trusts, Trees for Life embarked on the first phase of an ambitious 3 year initiative, ‘The Glen Affric Forest Landscape Project’, to expand native forests in the Glen Affric region.
Phase 1 (2015) is nearing completion and has included:
- Renovation of Athnamulloch Bothy in remote west Affric, to provide a warm and ecologically- sound strategic base for our volunteers from 2016 onwards. This will more than double the capacity for our volunteering work in the Affric area and will allow access to a remote planting site.
- Three week-long forest skills courses delivered by expert sessional ecologists, providing training in forest ecology, wildlife survey techniques and habitat restoration tasks.
- A programme of 10 Conservation Days which enabled people to try out practical forest restoration work ranging from collecting seed and growing trees to tree planting and habitat conservation tasks.
Phase 2 (2016) beginning in March will include:
- Public event to celebrate the opening of Athnamulloch Bothy in West Affric.
- A programme of 11 Conservation Weeks for teams of 10 volunteers per week to carry out forest restoration work on a significant scale. Volunteers will plant at least 30,000 trees and carry out other important tasks including removing non-native species, planting ground flora and restoring wetlands.
- Four guided Forest Discovery Walks for the general public, to raise awareness about biodiversity and conservation.
- Bioblitz events in Glen Affric to bring together specialist biodiversity surveyors to engage the local community and wider public in an exciting day of learning about and identifying wildlife.