Trees for Life Annual Review

1 February 2018 – 31 January 2019

Thank you to everyone who has supported Scotland’s wild forests.

This is our annual review which covers the period from 1 February 2018 to 31 January 2019. See our highlights for the year, our biggest achievements and our plans for the future. We have also included our annual financial breakdown, so you can see how we raise income and where it is spent.

Thanks to your support, we have grown and expanded our work throughout the year. We have been planting the rare and hard to grow mountain top willows and birches that that have mostly disappeared from Scotland. Our project to protect the last of the Caledonian pinewoods continues and we have successfully set up Trees for Life Woodland Services. We created seven new red squirrel populations. We hosted hundreds of volunteers at Dundreggan and in Glen Affric. We grew a record number of trees on our nursery. We completed planting our 445-acre Allt Ruadh exclosure. We published the book SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey, an important advocacy tool. We have applied for planning permission to create a ground-breaking Rewilding Centre at Dundreggan.

Find out about all this and more by reading on. 

94,251 trees grown on our tree nursery – a new record

116,896 trees planted

170 acres of new forest created


A record breaking year growing trees

We produced 94,251 trees in the nursery, one of our best years on record. We are particularly proud of our work growing rare and specialist trees. Trees such as woolly willow and dwarf birch which are severely depleted in the Scottish landscape.

Skills for Rewilding

In 2018/19 our first cohort of trainees were busy learning and gaining practical experience in horticulture, estate management, community engagement and forestry and landscape planning.

Following up: since the end of this review period. all five trainees graduated from the programme with a vast amount of practical experience across a wide range of rewilding activities, with relevant supporting qualifications. Three are already in employment or further training within the sector which is fantastic news and shows that having high level practical skills are a boost to employability.

Twinflower project growing roots

After visiting Aigas to see the work being done by Diana Gilbert we began our own twinflower project. We trialled different methods of taking cuttings: some with roots attached and some without, as well as using different growing mixes. The cuttings are now doing well and putting on new growth. We look forward to expanding on this project next year.

Completion of Allt Ruadh

At the end of 2018 our volunteer groups were busy planting the final compartment of the ‘Allt Ruadh’ forest at Dundreggan. This 445-acre site took three years to plant and contains over 279,000 trees. Some of the first trees planted in the exclosure have already grown taller than the volunteers who went to see them.


Trees for Life Woodland Services

Our woodland management consultancy was launched in 2018 and grew from strength to strength in its first year. The consultancy now has several major projects under its belt. As a social enterprise, 100% of profits generated from the business go directly towards furthering our core work.

Dundreggan 10th anniversary

We marked a decade of restoring the Caledonian Forest at Dundreggan with a special event for supporters and local people. Plus, staff were finally able to move into the new Caledonian Forest Research Centre, escaping from the leaky, rotten portacabin in place before.

Caledonian Pinewoods

The Caledonian Pinewood Recovery Project has so far focused on increasing our network, knowledge and understanding within the land ownership and management sector. In this uncharted territory it is important to secure our foundation within the sector to ensure our recommendations are given appropriate weighting.

Following up: We have made steady progress since the start of the project and we are now actively discussing the health and management of 64 of the 84 Caledonian Pinewood Inventory sites. Plus, we have completed comprehensive surveys of 42 of those sites.

Advocating for a wilder Scotland

Together with other NGOs we published the book SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey. This landmark conservation book portrays a vision for a wilder Scotland – a place where nature works, where wildlife flourishes and crucially, where people prosper. Our Crowdfunder for the book raised over £26,500 in just four weeks.

Seven new red squirrel populations.

The first phase of our red squirrel translocation project came to an end in 2018 and we are delighted that it was an overwhelming success. Altogether we translocated 146 red squirrels to forests in the northwest, creating seven healthy new populations.

Follow up: Phase two is just beginning, find out more here.

1,542 days restoring the forest

Hundreds of volunteers helped to grow and plant trees at Dundreggan and Glen Affric, among many other challenging and rewarding tasks. As well as rewilding the Highlands, volunteers also ‘rewild’ their own lives by getting closer to nature.

Looking to the future

Our plans for 2019/20

Dundreggan Rewilding Centre

Earlier this year we applied for planning permission in principle to create the world’s first rewilding centre at Dundreggan. We have consulted very widely about the centre, especially with the local community. With this centre Trees for Life wants to be able to show landowners, government and communities how rewilding can be done.

East West Wild

Trees for Life wants to change a big landscape, so we’ve been opening conversations about an ambitious proposal to create a partnership of landowners and communities across the Highland glens of Affric, Cannich, Moriston and Shiel. East West Wild aims to allow natural process to function at the landscape scale will underpin opportunities to sustain more land-based livelihoods and more vibrant communities.

Carn na Caorach

At the north-east edge of Dundreggan lies Carn na Caorach. This 700-acre area will be fenced in the spring and planted over the next few years. Not only will the area’s biodiversity increase, the developing woodland will eventually lock away carbon dioxide as well as improving the soil’s capacity to retain water with benefits for downstream flood management.

Scottish Rewilding Alliance

We have now joined together with 17 other Scottish organisations to form the Scottish Rewilding Alliance to help rewild the Scottish Highlands. At its most basic, rewilding is working with nature and not against it and Trees for Life has seen it as a solution to many of our problems for a long time.

Finances 1 February 2018 – 31 January 2019

A look at how Trees for Life invested in rewilding this year.

These income and expenditure figures were extracted from the draft accounts prepared for audit for the year ended 31 January 2019. Full audited and unqualified accounts can be obtained from Companies House or by applying to our head office. Figures rounded to the nearest £250.



Individual supporters  £286,250

We have more than 2000 supporters who give regularly from around the world and many hundreds of other supporters who show their care for the future of the wild forest in Scotland through generous donations. Thank you!

Trusts and foundations  £555,500

Grant givers continue to support our volunteer conservation weeks, red squirrel translocations, our nursery and trainee programme.

Companies  £123,000

Many companies are helping to bring back the wild forest through general donations, sponsorship and tree planting.

Products  £236,250

There are many different ways in which people from all walks of life and locations can help to restore and celebrate the Caledonian Forest from planting a tree to buying a wall calendar.

Other income  £286,121

We are grateful to those who are able to GiftAid their donations and to those who remembered us in their will. This income enables us to do more for Scotland’s wild forest.


Total Income  £1,487,000



Supporting volunteers and trainees  £170,500

People from all walks of life are helping the wild forest to grow and developing their rewilding skills at the same time. We couldn’t do It without you!

Rewilding Dundreggan  £281,000

Dundreggan is our flagship project where we’re returning rare woodland wildlife, plants and insects and conducting scientific research, education programmes, community outreach and traineeships within 10,000 acres of the Scottish Highlands.

Propagating the forest  £210,750

We grow around 60,000 native trees per year at our tree nursery. Scots pine, oak, birch, rowan, aspen and willow to name but a few.

Restoring the forest  £241,000

Our wider conservation efforts are recreating wilderness in some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the Highlands, such as Glen Affric.

Generating income  £100,250

This includes our work to enable supporters to help save the Caledonian Forest and it’s wildlife through donations, appeals, merchandise and applications for grant-funding.


Total Expenditure  £1,003,750