Jun 102014

Alan_&_Richard_Lochhead_with_planted_Scots_pine_(small)With thanks to Richard Bunting. 

A new Commonwealth Forest near Loch Ness has been established as a lasting and green legacy to this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, in an initiative being launched by conservation charity Trees for Life during Legacy Week (9-13 June).

Trees for Life has planted 6,500 trees in the new forest at its Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston – one for every athlete competing in the Games, with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead planting the 6,500th tree.

The award-winning charity aims to expand the new forest with the support of spectators who attend the Commonwealth Games. Donors from across the Commonwealth will be asked to plant a tree to support their national team, and track which nation is doing the most to support the Commonwealth Forest.

The project will boost the international profile of Scotland’s spectacular landscapes and wildlife, and also allow visitors to the Games to reduce the impact of their carbon footprint.

The initiative received a ringing endorsement from the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, who praised efforts to expand the ancient Caledonian Forest in the Highlands.

Richard Lochhead MSP said:

“The Caledonian Forest offers visitors some of our most majestic landscapes. I would encourage visitors who are coming to the Commonwealth Games to go further north and explore these woodlands and many other parts of Scotland’s stunning natural environment.

“It is excellent news that this project is helping to expand these woodlands and importantly creating a lasting legacy from the Games that generations of people will enjoy.”

Trees for Life’s Executive Director, Alan Watson Featherstone, said:

“The Commonwealth Games are a huge opportunity for the whole of Scotland. The Commonwealth Forest initiative will stand tall over the Highland landscape for centuries to come, providing a vital habitat for many endangered species of native wildlife. This will be a wonderful legacy to leave in the wake of Scotland’s year of sport.

“During the Games, many thousands of visitors will be travelling to Scotland. Whether by air, rail, or car, this will have a hugely significant carbon impact. We want to offer Games-goers from across the world the chance to mitigate the impact of their carbon emissions, by contributing to a unique and lasting green Games legacy in the wild heart of the Scottish Highlands.

“It takes just a few seconds to donate, and from £5 per tree this is a cheap, easy way to help make these a truly green Commonwealth Games.”

With less than 50 days to go before Glasgow 2014, Legacy Week is celebrating initiatives that will deliver lasting benefits from Scotland’s hosting of the Games. The ambition is to promote Scotland as a frontrunner in delivering nationwide benefits from hosting a major sporting event.

People can donate to the Commonwealth Forest by visiting treesforlife.org.uk/CoFo or texting COFO14 £5 to 70070. One tree costs £5.

Games-goers will be encouraged to use Trees for life’s online ‘carbon calculator’ to work out how many trees to plant to mitigate their carbon impact.

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Nov 012013

With thanks to Becky Priestley, Marketing & Communications Officer.

Alan Featherstone Watson TFL 176 award

Alan Watson Featherstone (centre) after his receipt of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Nature’ Award at the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards in Edinburgh on 30th October.

Trees for Life received a double boost on Wednesday 30 October, when the conservation charity was announced as a finalist for the People’s Millions televised vote to win up to £50,000 of Lottery funding, and its founder won the Outstanding Contribution to Nature category at the RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards 2013.

The People’s Millions is a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund and ITV, in which the public decide which local community projects will each receive up to £50,000 of Lottery funding.

Trees for Life has been chosen as a finalist for its plan to establish its acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate – a 10,000-acre forest regeneration site and biodiversity hotspot to the west of Loch Ness – as a leading conservation volunteer training centre.

The public vote will take place by phone all day on 27 November, and STV North will broadcast a televised feature that evening.

Trees for Life’s project aims to specifically benefit people from diverse backgrounds – including disadvantaged people such as those on low incomes or who are unemployed. Many such people currently have limited access to healthy outdoor activities and training opportunities.

Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Executive Director, said:-

“We are urging people to vote for us in the People’s Millions vote on 27 November. Success would be a huge boost to our work to save the ancient CaledonianForest, which is both internationally important and the UK’s equivalent of a rainforest.

“This remarkable woodland is still in decline, with many of its rare and unique species at risk of extinction. The stakes are high and we are the last generation with the opportunity to save this natural treasure.

“Our People’s Millions project is about people as much as places. It will fund specialised training for volunteers to enable them to make an enhanced, positive contribution to the return of Scotland’s native forests, and will also provide accredited training for leading volunteer groups.”

The Trees for Life project will encourage volunteers, who otherwise might not get the chance to do so, to learn about threatened habitats and species, and benefit from time spent in green places and from activities that are good for mental and physical health.

Alan Featherstone Watson TFL 176

Trees for Life Executive Director Alan Watson Featherstone in the native woodland at Dundreggan Conservation Estate

A range of activities will ensure that the project is accessible for older people and those with limited mobility, and those affected by mental health issues or other challenges.

People taking part in the project will also transform their natural environment.

They will be able to help carry out vital restoration work – such as planting trees and wild flowers, collecting seeds and roots for propagating rare species, growing trees and plants in our tree nursery, removing non-native species and carrying out biodiversity surveys.

For more details about Trees for Life and the People’s Millions vote on 27 November, please see www.treesforlife.org.uk/peoplesmillions or call 0845 458 3505

Meanwhile, Alan Watson Featherstone – who founded Trees for Life, one of Scotland’s leading conservation charities, in 1986 – won the Outstanding Contribution to Nature category at the RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards 2013. The accolade was announced at a special ceremony held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh on 30 October.

The awards recognise and celebrate excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in Scottish nature conservation. The Outstanding Contribution to Nature award is made to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the conservation of nature in Scotland or overseas.

Alan’s wide-ranging, long-term work to change humanity’s impact on Nature and the planet has also helped to provide inspiration for ecological restoration projects in the Scottish borders, on Dartmoor in England, and on the island of Tierra del Fuego in the far south of Chile.

Trees for Life’s previous awards include UK Conservation Project of the Year, the Millennium Marque, Top 10 Conservation Holidays worldwide and the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Environment Award.

Trees for Life has so far planted more than one million trees at dozens of locations in the Highlands, and has created 10,000 acres of new forest. It has pledged to establish one million more trees by planting and natural regeneration by 2018.

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