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28 Feb 2024

An opportunity to help protect Scotland’s woodlands

Written by Sarah Burnett
A man wearing a waterproof coat and a fleece hat sits on a hillside, concentrating on planting a young tree beside a clump of a heather. A little brown and white dog sits next to him, looking out across the stream that runs through the glen. There is snow on the peaks in the background.
Trust volunteer Andy McNamara with dog Pip, planting native trees at Glen Rosa, Arran
Through our charity’s Dedicate a Tree appeal, you can make planet-friendly gifts and be part of creating Scotland’s future woodlands – including in Glen Rosa, Ben Lawers and Aberdeenshire.

We are asking the public for support to protect and enrich Scotland’s woodlands, including helping to save a rare native species. The Catacol whitebeam (Sorbus pseudomeinichii) is one of the most endangered species in the world, with just two remaining trees thought to be growing in the wild – in Glen Catacol on the Isle of Arran. The island is also home to two other rare and endangered species of tree: the Arran whitebeam (Sorbus arranensis) and the cut-leaved whitebeam (Sorbus pseudofennica). Our charity is working with other organisations, community groups and tree specialists to rescue the species and boost their numbers. To do so, we need your help.

The programme to nurture these rare trees is part of our wider projects to replant and support the regeneration of native woodland, not just on Arran but also at other special places in our care, including Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve (NNR) as well as sites across the north east of Scotland. This includes replacing woodlands devastated by the storms of the past couple of years, which brought down millions of trees all over Scotland.

In support of these woodland restoration and conservation projects across Scotland, we have launched our Dedicate a Tree appeal – an opportunity for supporters to protect Scotland’s woodlands for generations to come, perhaps in celebration or memory of loved ones, as a gift, or as an investment in the future of places that you care about. Previous donors have celebrated anything from 103rd birthdays to a 5-year-old grandchild learning to ride a bike, holidays in Scotland, and the NHS.

Kate Sampson, the National Trust for Scotland’s Senior Ranger at Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park and Goatfell, on the Isle of Arran, said: ‘Glen Rosa is a fabulous iconic Highland landscape in the heart of Arran, which has been depleted of trees since humans came here around 4,000 years ago – by people building roundhouses and shielings, then by sheep, and now by deer.

‘People have had huge impacts on this amazing landscape – and of course on other landscapes around Scotland – and now our supporters at the National Trust for Scotland have been working to put back these trees. To date, we’ve planted around 39,000 native trees in Glen Rosa, thanks to generous support from donors and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, which allowed us to fence off a large area from deer.’

“When you put back trees, you also put back biodiversity. This year we’ve had a plant here in Glen Rosa – a globe flower – that has not been recorded in Arran since around 1769!”
Kate Sampson
Senior Ranger

Kate continued: ‘We hope that our members and supporters will continue to back our wonderful woodland regeneration projects and progress – on Arran and the other wonderful and important landscapes supported by our charity’s Dedicate a Tree appeal. Even a few pounds, donated at, can help us breathe new life into Scotland’s woodlands.’

On Arran, we are planting native birch, sessile oak, hazels, aspen, willow and alder in a 400-hectare site in Glen Rosa, as well as working with other organisations to protect the future of endangered whitebeam species. Having already planted around 39,000 native trees in the glacier-carved glen, the Trust is aiming to plant 5,000 more trees, including the rare Arran whitebeams, with support from donors to our Dedicate a Tree appeal.

In the north east of Scotland, the appeal is supporting our work to restore and replant woodlands ravaged by storms Arwen, Corrie, Malik and Otto, including at Crathes Castle, Castle Fraser, Craigievar Castle, Drum Castle, Fyvie Castle and Pitmedden Garden. Using climate-change modelling, we will plant trees most beneficial to creating resilient woodlands, in order to create the vital ‘cathedral’ woodlands of the future.

An aerial view of a large area of woodland, with Drum Castle just peeking out through the trees.
In the north east, the Dedicate a Tree appeal is supporting work to restore and replant storm-damaged woodlands

At Ben Lawers, we are inviting the public to support our project to restore mountain woodlands, which provide shelter and sustenance for wildlife and insects, creating ideal conditions for rare and endangered plant species, and protecting the natural beauty of the mountain landscape. The project includes planting montane scrub – the band of shrubs that transition from trees growing on lower slopes to the open slopes of upper summits. Montane scrub is often referred to as a ‘Cinderella habitat’ because it’s so often forgotten about in conservation activity in the UK.

Varied woodland fills a mountainside
Woodland regeneration activity at Ben Lawers includes planting montane scrub, often known as a ‘Cinderella habitat’

Philip Long OBE, the National Trust for Scotland’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Our charity looks after so much of what makes Scotland wonderful, and this includes our natural landscapes, woodlands and forests. In recent years, storms and the increasingly concerning impacts of the climate crisis have caused and contributed to severe destruction across the woodlands cared for by the Trust, uprooting ancient specimen trees, destroying the shelterbelts that protect some of our most loved designed landscapes and gardens, and also damaging treasured historic buildings in our care.

‘As the Trust takes on our largest tree replanting projects to date, we continue to rely on the support of those who care for Scotland’s woodlands, natural landscapes and ecosystems as much as we do. By dedicating a tree, people of all ages can help us to replant endangered native species, increase the biodiversity of our places, restore Scotland’s woodlands and mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis, as well as celebrating and commemorating their loved ones in a meaningful way.’

“Every tree dedicated really will benefit our natural landscapes across Scotland, helping our charity to ensure Scotland’s nature, beauty and heritage remains protected, and there for generations to come.”
Philip Long
Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland
A group of people walk in a line across an orange hillside, carrying spades and sacks of saplings. They are a mixture of adults and children. Cloud hangs over the mountains above.
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