CJS Focus on Habitat Management and Conservation

Published: 18 August 2008

logo: NBN, National Biodiversity Network

In Association with: National Biodiversity Network Trust

logo: Trees for LifeForest restoration in the Highlands of Scotland   By Dan Puplett


Trees for Life is an award winning charity that aims to restore a wild, native forest ecosystem to a 900 square mile area in the Highlands of Scotland. Centuries of exploitation and overgrazing have led to the degradation of our forest ecosystems and a huge decline in biodiversity. Rather than trying to recreate a forest of the past, we seek to restore natural processes, allowing our wild places to evolve and change as they have been doing for millennia.

In the long term we believe that biodiversity would best be served by having the full complement of missing native species, such as beavers and lynx, as these animals play a crucial role in the ecosystem, benefiting numerous other species. Lynx for example, not only prey on roe deer, but also disperse them, reducing browsing pressure in a given area and allowing vegetation to regenerate; beaver activity is known to provide habitat for fish, amphibians, otters and countless invertebrates.

In the mean time we are carrying out a wide range of work to restore the biodiversity of our native pinewoods and other habitats. This work includes planting natives, felling exotics, tree protection, and fence removal. We also have specific projects to restore aspen, montane scrub and woodland ground flora.

We run over 55 Volunteer Workweeks a year, on which people have the opportunity to contribute to the restoration of Scotlandís biodiversity, in some of the most beautiful surroundings in Britain. We aim to plant another 250,000 trees by the end of 2009, so the more hands the better!


During 2008 we bought the Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston, where we have become stewards of some 4000ha of land, including ancient woodland. There is potential to plant up a significant area of new forest. We have brought in wild boar to work with us as soil engineers and bracken controllers, preparing a seedbed for tree regeneration. So far we have recorded over 50 UK BAP species across the estate, ranging from black grouse to rare invertebrates, and there are good populations of juniper and the montane shrub dwarf birch. In autumn this year, 2011, we will be planting our millionth tree.


Before: Our first ever work week, April 1991

After:  the same scene in 2002.

Before: A participant in our first ever work week in April 1991, about to plant a Scots pine beside a prominent pine stump in western Glen Affric.


After: The same scene in 2002 - the stump is now partially covered by heather and blaeberry, due to exclusion of deer, and the tree planted over is 2 metres tall.

Our Conservation Holiday programme continues with volunteers working at Dundreggan and on a range of other sites in the Western Highlands with partners including the Forestry Commission, RSPB and private landowners. We are also running regular volunteer days for folk who live locally, Green Days Out. Check out the website or give us a ring for more details:  www.treesforlife.org.uk tel: 01309 691292

Updated information August 2011:

Dan Puplett has now moved on from Trees for Life, please direct enquires to Mick Drury

Check: Jan17

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