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15 Apr 2024

Your Gift in Action – spring 2024

A long pine tree stands to the right with snow covered mountains in the background against a pale blue sky.
Caledonian pine at Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve
As a charity, the Trust depends on the generosity of our supporters to safeguard the many cherished places in our care.

Thanks to your support, our dedicated team of rangers, conservationists, property experts, volunteers and more continue to carry out the essential work required to preserve Scotland’s unique landscapes and historic sites.

From maintaining our mountain footpaths and restoring our historic buildings to nurturing our natural habitats and fostering the diverse wildlife within them, we work tirelessly to protect the places you love.

We’re excited to share a glimpse into some recent work undertaken by our passionate staff and volunteers, showcasing just how important your support is in preserving Scotland’s rich heritage. Thank you.

Young pine tree saplings growing on hill slopes.
New young pine saplings at Mar Lodge Estate NNR

Caledonian pinewoods, Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve (Shaila Rao, Ecologist, Countryside & Islands North)

The spectacular Caledonian pinewoods at Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve now live in a landscape of hope. After a lengthy decline, we’re restoring the estate’s pinewoods, the recovery and expansion of which is key to fighting the climate emergency and biodiversity loss.

Over the centuries, the forest has faced heavy grazing, burning, timber extraction and climatic changes, leading to no natural regeneration. However, through our land management, we’ve seen a remarkable transformation. Thousands of pine seedlings have emerged amidst the heather, young pine trees are charging up the slopes, and birch saplings track the riverbanks. The appearance of juniper, willow, dwarf birch and other species at higher altitudes hints at the potential revival of treeline woodlands. The forest is gradually rejuvenating, with the return of hen harriers, blooming woodland flowers, and majestic white-tailed eagles once again soaring the skies.

Our restoration efforts at Mar Lodge Estate are just the beginning of a 200-year vision. We’re committed to restoring the pinewoods to their former glory and fully harnessing their positive impact on the climate and biodiversity. We’re grateful to everyone who has supported this work; we couldn’t do it without you.

A person does some work to an old millstone using tools, with a hoover in the foreground.
Restoration work is ongoing at Barry Mill

Barry Mill (Frances Swanston, Maintenance Surveyor, Aberdeenshire & Angus)

January saw initial work commence at Barry Mill in Carnoustie, where significant restoration is underway. The current building dates back to 1814, but a mill has existed on site since the early 18th century. It’s an exceptional survivor of one of Scotland’s few water-powered meal mills, and a living testament to our industrial heritage.

A new cast-iron waterwheel shaft, crafted to the original design by mill specialists Dorothea Restorations, will be installed and repaired, replacing the axle and fitting new timber buckets. Masonry repairs to the weir and additional mill work will also be completed.

These essential efforts are a commitment to the wishes of the Gunn family, who ran the mill from 1926–1988 when the Trust acquired it. These demonstrations will not only bring the once-beating heart of a rural community back to life but also provide an opportunity for the public to be a part of this restoration journey.

We are immensely grateful to our generous donor who, following a visit to the mill in 2023, was inspired by our restoration work and the knowledge of our property team. Their contribution has made the repair work on the waterwheel possible. We also extend our heartfelt thanks to all our supporters who, through their donations, play a crucial role in the ongoing care of Scotland’s historic buildings. Every donation, regardless of its size, makes a significant impact on our work!

A bearded person stands in front of a flowering tree with other shrubs and trees in the background.
Chris Sylvester, Trainee Gardener, at Inverewe

Inverewe propagation experiments (Chris Sylvester, Trainee Gardener)

I spent the last year as a garden trainee at Inverewe. Nestled in the North West Highlands for over 100 years, Inverewe’s 19th-century garden stretches across a remote coastline and is like no other. Thanks to a unique microclimate nurtured by the Gulf Stream, visitors are surprised by its tapestry of extraordinary plants at every turn.

In recent years, the garden team has dedicated its efforts to transforming waste material and soil health processes, primarily through biochar production. Woody garden waste is burnt under precise conditions, creating a specialised form of charcoal. This eco-friendly material is put back into the soil, sequestering carbon for potential millennia. In an era marked by climate and environmental challenges, initiatives like this are vital in understanding how we can restore and regenerate precious habitats sustainably and eco-consciously.

Since starting my traineeship in February 2023, I’ve conducted various experiments across different areas of Inverewe to better understand how biochar can benefit our plants and increase our sustainability. As the largest garden owner in Scotland, with over 100,000 native and exotic plants in our care, the results of these experiments could be hugely influential!

I’m grateful to the Stanley Smith Horticultural Society, whose donation generously funded half of the total cost of my traineeship, and to everyone who has supported our gardens and designed landscapes.

Thank you to everyone who has supported our charity.

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Everything we do at the National Trust for Scotland relies on the support and generosity of our visitors, members and donors. Without you, we couldn’t protect the places or collections in our care, or connect people with Scotland’s past.