Mar 242017

With thanks to Lisa Marley Press.

An award-winning Aberdonian wildlife filmmaker, hailed by renowned naturalist Mark Avery as ‘gifted’, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to produce a new documentary following an experimental human wolf pack in the Scottish Highlands.

Lisa Marley (25), from Westhill, has created an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to make the film, Project Wolf, which will highlight Scotland’s studies into reintroducing species and restoring ecosystems, known as rewilding.

The film will follow the activities of charity Trees for Life’s Project Wolf – a human wolf pack – as it investigates the environmental impact of reintroducing wolves to the Caledonian Forest in Glen Moriston, near Loch Ness. By recreating the behaviours of natural predators, the charity hopes to discover how this would affect the movements and grazing of red deer, in an effort to restore plant life and allow new growth to thrive.

Wildlife and conservation enthusiasts can donate to the campaign at until April 19 to help bring the film to the big screen, in exchange for a series of perks ranging from guide books and gift cards to production credits and invitations to film festivals.

Lisa says,

“I have always been interested in rewilding. The idea of reintroducing species to an ecosystem in order to restore natural balance is inherently fascinating. It allows us not only to examine the interactions of flora and fauna, but also to evaluate our own relationships with nature.

“Trees for Life’s work in the Highlands is at the forefront of rewilding study in Scotland, and its work with a human wolf pack allows for a unique perspective on the issues surrounding rewilding. By following the wolf pack’s movements, and interviewing the key figures involved in the project, I hope to allow a greater understanding of the importance of this work.

“Project Wolf is something of a passion project for me: it’s a wonderful story that I feel is important to tell, and I’d love to be able to do that in my own way. But I can’t do that alone, and I hope that the wildlife and conservation communities will share my enthusiasm for learning more about this incredible project.

“By donating via Indiegogo, those with an interest in rewilding can help spread the word and bring the issue to the attention of a much wider audience.”

Alan Watson Featherstone, founder of Trees for Life, believes that the film will help to raise the profile of rewilding and bring it to the public’s attention. He says,

“Project Wolf is an innovative project run by Trees for Life, using enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to patrol the edge of the native Caledonian Forest, to disturb deer that are grazing on native tree seedlings, preventing their growth.

“It seeks to mimic the natural disturbance effect of missing predators, such as the wolf, and has the potential to be replicated in many parts of Scotland (and elsewhere), greatly assisting the process of forest restoration.

“This film will play a crucial role in communicating the value, importance and effectiveness of the project, so please support it with a donation – you will be directly helping the recovery of the Caledonian Forest.”

Lisa’s last film, Red Sky on the Black Isle, also continues to make waves both in the film and wildlife communities.

Translated into multiple languages and screened around the world, it picked up the Little Audience Prize at the Raptor Filmz Short Scottish Film Festival last year.

This weekend it will be screened at the inaugural Wild Film Festival Scotland in Dumfries, and will be shown at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York in October.

The Project Wolf campaign runs on Indiegogo until April 19. For more information, and to donate, visit

To follow Lisa’s progress, follow Project Wolf on Facebook at or follow Lisa on Twitter @procuriosity

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Mar 172017

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

Scottish nature charity Trees for Life has won £376,800 of highly sought after funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) ‘Skills for the Future’ programme. The funding will enable Trees for Life to train 15 people over a three-year period in wild forest restoration skills.

Steve Micklewright, CEO of Trees for Life, said:

“There is a shortage of people who are able to manage estates to bring back natural forests and wildlife to the Highlands. This funding will help us train people in these skills, bringing new employment opportunities to local people and to fill the skills gap.”

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:

“We know that our Skills for the Future programme is driving successful and lasting change. It’s providing a much-needed pool of talented people who will be the future guardians of the heritage sector, ensuring that it continues to flourish.

“By pairing trainees with experts, they gain access to specialist knowledge plus practical, paid, on-the-job experience. It’s simple yet highly effective, but requires funding which we are delighted to provide.”

Trees for Life will recruit five trainees each year for three years, starting in 2018. Over the course of a year, the trainees will have the opportunity to learn and develop the essential skills needed to save the Caledonian Forest ­– a type of woodland found only in the Highlands of Scotland. They will receive practical training in specialist tree propagation, deer management for nature conservation, native forest management techniques, wildlife monitoring and community engagement.

Trainees will also learn how to interpret landscapes through innovative sources of information such as Gaelic place names, which often describe which trees and other wildlife once thrived in an area.

Steve Micklewright said:

“We will be looking in particular for a broad range of trainees – especially young people from the Highlands, women, and people seeking a career change – to increase the diversity of people working in Highland estate management.”

The training will be based at Trees for Life’s flagship Dundreggan Conservation Estate and will be accredited by the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Trees for Life is an award-winning charity working to restore the native Caledonian Forest and its unique wildlife to the spectacular Highlands of Scotland, including to its 10,000-acre Dundreggan Conservation Estate.

The charity’s work is about people as much as places. Much of this is carried out by volunteers and is funded by its members, and by charitable trusts, corporate supporters and other donors.

The charity’s rewilding activity also includes working for the return of rare woodland wildlife and plants, and carrying out scientific research and education programmes. See 

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Feb 242017

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

Peter Chandler sweep-netting for fungus gnats beside a lone Scots pine on Dundreggan in August 2016

Surveys at Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Conservation Estate near Loch Ness have revealed a range of rare species, including a midge never recorded in the United Kingdom before – underlining the site’s growing reputation as a ‘lost world’ for biodiversity.
The discovery of the non-biting midge (Chironomus vallenduuki) by entomologist Peter Chandler last August brings the total of UK biodiversity firsts found at the Inverness-shire estate to 11.

Other key findings during the charity’s 2016 survey season included two rare gnats whose larvae feed on fungi.

One of these (Sciophila varia) is only known from four other UK sites. The other (Mycomya nigricornis) is only known in the UK from a handful of Scottish sites and had not been seen since 1990.

“Dundreggan is a special part of the Caledonian Forest that keeps on revealing beautiful, interesting and rare species. The surprisingly rich wealth of life in this corner of the Highlands highlights the importance of concerted conservation action to protect and restore Scotland’s wild places,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s founder.

The charity also found two parasitic wasps (Homotropus pallipes and Diphyus salicatorius), for which there are very few Scottish records, and – for the first time in Scotland north of the River Tay – a pseudoscorpion called the knotty shining claw (Lamprochernes nodosus).

A micro-moth, the small barred longhorn (Adela croesella) – only documented at three other locations in Scotland, and never before this far north – was found by volunteer Richard Davidson. Richard had been taking part in one of Trees for Life’s popular volunteer Conservation Weeks at Dundreggan when he found the moth.

“Our latest discoveries add to an already-remarkable range of rare and endangered species found at Dundreggan – some of which were previously unknown in the UK or Scotland, or which were feared to be extinct,” added Alan Watson Featherstone.

New species for the UK discovered on the estate in recent years were three sawflies (Nematus pravus, Nematus pseudodispar and Amauronematus tristis), an aphid (Cinara smolandiae), two aphid parasitoids (Ephedrus helleni, Praon cavariellae), three fungus gnats (Brevicornu parafennicum, Mycomya disa, Sceptonia longisetosa), and a mite (Ceratozetella thienemanni).

Parasitic wasp Diphyus salicatorius

Dundreggan has also revealed the second-ever British record of a waxfly species (Helicoconis hirtinervis); a golden horsefly (Atylotus fulvus) only seen once before in Scotland since 1923; and the juniper shieldbug (Cyphostethus tristriatus), thought to be the first Highlands record.

In total, more than 3,300 species have now been recorded at the forest restoration site.
At least 68 of these are priority species for conservation.

Members of the public can volunteer to help plant half a million trees at Dundreggan as part of Trees for Life’s award-winning restoration of the Caledonian Forest. The charity’s rewilding activity also includes working for the return of rare woodland wildlife and plants, and carrying out scientific research and education programmes. See

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Feb 102017

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

Record numbers of three dolphin species off Scotland’s west coast were recorded by conservation charity Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust in its marine research expeditions in 2016. 
From the trust’s specialized research yacht Silurian, volunteers and scientists recorded 2,303 individual common dolphins, 42 bottlenose dolphins and 94 Risso’s dolphins – the figures for all three species being the highest ever recorded in its annual survey seasons.

Average annual figures documented over the previous 14 years were 463 individual common dolphins, 14 bottlenose dolphins and 12 Risso’s dolphins. 

For common dolphins, these records range from 0 individuals encountered in a couple of the earlier field seasons to 1,862 during the 2007 season. 

Dr. Lauren Hartny-Mills, Science Officer of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said:

“The reasons for the high number of sightings of these charismatic dolphin species – and the broader effects on the marine environment and other species – remain unclear. But the intriguing findings highlight the importance of on-going monitoring and research – to strengthen our understanding of what is taking place in Hebridean waters, and to ensure well-informed conservation action.”

The latest findings were made in a research season lasting from May to October 2016, as part of the trust’s unique long-term citizen science project monitoring whales, dolphins and porpoises – collectively known as cetaceans – as well as basking sharks in the Hebrides.

These annual research surveys depend on paying volunteers, with 71 welcomed aboard in 2016 – working with marine scientists on visual surveys and acoustic monitoring with underwater microphones or hydrophones, and identifying individual cetaceans through photography.

The Isle of Mull-based organisation now holds data from more than 95,000km of survey effort. It aims to pass the 100,000km milestone during 2017, and it is currently recruiting volunteers to support this by working as citizen scientists onboard Silurian for periods of almost two weeks from April to September.

Alison Lomax, Director of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said: “The impressive range of species documented in our at-sea surveys last year is a powerful reminder that Scotland’s west coast ocean environment is home to remarkable marine life. Long-term scientific studies of this globally-important habitat and its inhabitants are crucial if we are to ensure a secure future for the Hebrides’ spectacular cetaceans.”

During 2016, Silurian – previously used in filming of the BBC’s The Blue Planet series – covered more than 5,000 nautical miles, compared to an average of almost 4,000 miles annually over the previous 14 years. Its crew documented more than 1,300 cetaceans and basking sharks, and recorded almost 700 hours of underwater detections of cetaceans using specialist listening equipment.

Notable highlights included a wonderful encounter with a humpback whale in the northern Minch – an hour was spent with the massive creature lunge feeding, tail slapping and swimming under Silurian, alongside a large group of common dolphins.

2016 also saw Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s first expeditions running out of Ullapool, allowing for surveys in the more northern and western parts of the charity’s study area.

Western Scotland’s seas are one of Europe’s most important cetacean habitats. With a long, complex coastline, strong ocean currents and a variety of habitats, the Hebrides is one of the UK’s most biologically productive areas. So far 24 of the world’s estimated 92 cetacean species have been recorded in the region – many being national and international conservation priority species.

Yet marine ecosystems are fragile, and cetaceans face increasing stress from human activities – including climate change, entanglement, pollution, underwater noise and habitat degradation.

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has been monitoring marine mega fauna in the Hebrides since 1994, and from Silurian since 2002. Its surveys are partly funded by a generous grant from Scottish Natural Heritage, which supports the training of future mammal scientists.

The charity is the only organisation collecting long-term data on such a large scale on Scotland’s west coast, and its volunteers and scientists have now recorded more than 12,000 cetaceans. A short film about surveys can be seen at

Participation costs for the forthcoming 2017 surveys cover boat expenses, accommodation, training, food and insurance, and support the trust’s research. For details of how to take part, contact, call 01688 302620, or visit


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Dec 062016

Pupils from Invergarry Primary School with singer and harpist Claire Hewitt.

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

Schools in the Highlands are working with conservation charity Trees for Life to learn firsthand about native woodlands and rewilding through a new project that combines tree planting with storytelling, folklore, history, geography, poetry and song.

Around 300 pupils in Cannich, Balnain, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus and Invergarry are taking part in the Rewilding the Highlands project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“This is an exciting collaboration in which teachers and pupils are working together to discover more about our precious native woodlands and the importance of restoring Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder.

Specially commissioned teaching resources written by Sallie Harkness and Carol Omand of Storyline Scotland – including stories, songs and puppets – are bringing the project alive for the schoolchildren. The pupils are also learning about past relationships between people and trees, Gaelic place-names, and the craft of the storyteller or seanachaidh.

Storyteller, singer and harpist Claire Hewitt recently visited Invergarry Primary School to share woodland folklore, songs and stories, while training upper primary pupils as apprentice storytellers.

Gaelic storyteller Ariel Killick also visited Invergarry Primary School and Kilchuimen Primary School in Fort Augustus, using her engaging workshop ‘Adventures with the Gaelic Tree Alphabet’ to explore environmental issues, Gaelic poetry and language, and the Highland clearances.

Kim Bentley, Head Teacher at Invergarry Primary School, said:

“This fantastic project is helping to strengthen our pupils’ appreciation and love of our native woodlands. It’s wonderful for them to be involved in the restoration of the Caledonian Forest, and to be part of something that will have a lasting impact on future generations.”

The project addresses a wide range of curriculum areas including outdoor learning, science, Gaelic, arts and literacy. Participating schools have visited Trees for Life’s acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston to find out more about conservation and to help in the charity’s tree nursery. 

Plans for the schools also include community celebrations of the project, and walks in community woodlands with pupils who are to be trained as nature guides.

Next spring, poets Alec Finlay and Ken Cockburn will work with secondary schools on a Gaelic place-name map, using linguistic archaeology to reveal lost woods and wildlife in Glen Affric, Glen Urquhart, Glenmoriston and Glen Garry. Pupils will carry out research, with their discoveries added to the map.

The Caledonian Forest has been an important part of the Highlands’ culture and natural landscape for millennia, but is now one of the UK’s most endangered habitats – largely because of over-grazing, which prevents natural regeneration of its trees. For details about Trees for Life’s award-winning work to save the forest, visit

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Nov 282016

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

beaver-pixabay-nutria-1386446_1280 Welcoming the Scottish government’s decision to allow reintroduced beavers to remain in the country, Trees for Life said that it plans to move ahead with investigating possibilities for bringing beavers to areas north of the Great Glen, working with local communities to identify where they might live without perceived adverse impacts.

Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive said:

“Today’s decision means that beavers can naturally spread through Scotland in the future. There is a lot of space in the Highlands where they could thrive, improving the region for other wildlife and providing a tourist attraction that will benefit the local economy.”

However, the main obstacle to the natural spread of beavers to the Highlands is geography. Steve Micklewright said:

“The Great Glen presents a natural barrier to beavers colonising the area on their own from the existing populations in Argyll and Tayside, so the only way to be sure they will return to the northwest Highlands would be to give them a helping hand.”

Trees for Life has long been an advocate for the Eurasian beaver’s reintroduction to Scotland and has been working on the possibility to reintroduce them for many years. In 2015 the charity commissioned initial research by beaver experts, which indicated that places such as Glen Affric could support beavers.

The planting of aspen trees – a vital winter food for beavers – by Trees for Life in areas beside Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin and Loch Affric in Glen Affric, and beside the River Moriston at the charity’s Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston, has also improved the prospect of these areas being suitable for beaver reintroduction in the future.

Trees for Life is supportive of the return of beavers because they can improve the health of rivers and lochs, and also reduce flooding. They coppice and fell trees, letting light into the forest and enabling other plants to flourish, while stimulating new growth of the trees themselves. Their small dams create wetland areas, providing habitats for amphibians, invertebrates and fish, which in turn attract birds and otters.

While the benefits to other wildlife of beaver reintroduction are significant, the government’s announcement recognises that some residents may be concerned about the possible impact of beavers on their interests and that this requires careful management.

Acknowledging that some people might be worried about potential local impacts such as flooding and beavers felling trees to build dams, Steve Micklewright said:

“While it is certain that beavers could live in the Highlands, the next step is to ensure they would be a welcome addition to the landscape. That is why we plan to work out where they would be welcome. Then we plan to enter in to dialogue with the government to explore how we can help them to return to those areas.”

Pictures courtesy of Pixabay, used under creative commons permissions. Featured image credit: Elli60. Thumbnail credit: Antranias. Top right image credit: Peter Lösch.

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Nov 102016

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in mid flight in forest, Scotland.

Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in mid flight in forest, Scotland. © Peter Cairns.

An innovative project to boost the number of the UK’s red squirrels by relocating individuals to woodlands they cannot reach by themselves is taking a major step forward this month.

Conservation experts at the charity Trees for Life will carefully relocate red squirrels from Inverness-shire and Moray to forests near Kinlochewe and at Plockton, where the species is currently absent despite there being suitable habitat for squirrels.

The Red Squirrel Reintroduction Project aims to establish 10 new populations in the northwest Highlands, significantly increasing both the numbers and range of the red squirrel in the UK.

“We are giving red squirrels a helping hand to return to some of their long-lost forest homes. Many Highland woodlands offer the species excellent habitat far from disease-carrying grey squirrels – but because reds travel between trees and avoid crossing large areas of open ground, they can’t return to isolated woodlands without our help,” said Becky Priestley, Trees for Life’s Wildlife Officer.

The next two releases follow a successful first reintroduction in March this year, when the charity relocated 33 red squirrels from Forres and Strathspey to native woods at Shieldaig in Wester Ross.

This new population has also bred during the summer, with several young squirrels observed – confirming that the area is excellent habitat with a good natural food supply.

There have also been regular sightings reported by local people, with the squirrels ranging widely as they explore nearby habitat. Trees for Life is continuing to monitor the population, with surveys planned for later this year.

Another success has been high levels of community involvement. Residents near the relocation sites have been monitoring the squirrels and carrying out supplementary feeding, while people from whose gardens the squirrels were removed have visited Shieldaig to see the expanding new population.

“Involving local communities is a big part of this exciting rewilding project. People love helping red squirrels and having them move into their local area,” said Becky Priestley.

In the next phase of the project, this autumn 70 red squirrels will be relocated to the privately-owned Coulin Estate next to Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve near Kinlochewe, and to Plockton, which is owned by landowners including conservation charity The National Trust for Scotland. These sites have good habitat with significant potential for the species to spread into surrounding areas.

There will be opportunities for people to help with monitoring the new squirrel populations, by reporting sightings and by taking part in surveys during the winter.

With animal welfare paramount, the project involves squirrels being transported in special nest boxes, lined with hay for comfort, and provisioned for food and hydration. Only small numbers of squirrels are removed from any site, so that donor populations are unaffected. Health checks ensure that diseased animals are not introduced to new populations.

At the reintroduction sites, the boxes are fixed to trees, with exit holes lightly filled with grass – allowing the squirrels to find their way out. Food is provided for several months while the squirrels become accustomed to their new habitat.

In the UK, red squirrels are now rare with only an estimated 138,000 individuals left – their numbers decimated by the reduction of forests to isolated remnants, and by disease and competition from the introduced non-native grey squirrel.

The Red Squirrel Reintroduction Project has been made possible by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and People’s Trust for Endangered Species. It involves volunteer opportunities, landowner partnerships, and research to strengthen conservation. All relocation sites require comprehensive habitat assessments, landowner agreements, and a five-year licence from Scottish Natural Heritage.

For details about Trees for Life’s award-winning work to restore the Caledonian Forest in the Highlands, visit

Pictured: Red squirrel © Peter Cairns 

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Sep 292016

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.


Birch trees at Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Conservation Estate

An innovative study of soundscapes at Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Conservation Estate aims to reveal new findings about woodland health and the richness of wildlife at the 10,000-acre biodiversity hotspot.
Composer and audio specialist Huw McGregor has carried out an initial investigation at the Inverness-shire estate as part of his Woodland Soundscape Project, using purpose-built sound recording equipment to collect and monitor forest sounds.

He hopes to develop a new way of measuring biodiversity at Dundreggan, by providing fresh data on the diversity and populations of species, and also to inspire people to visit and enjoy woodlands.

“People have long enjoyed forest sounds, but using modern technology to study the soundscapes of these precious habitats offers a new way of better understanding their development over time, and the diversity and behaviour of their wildlife,” said Huw McGregor.

“Strengthening understanding of our sonic environment, and its links to ecological health, can provide a useful new way of measuring the impact of conservation work. It’s fantastic to be working with Trees for Life, because rewilding is so important for the wellbeing of our children and the natural world.”

Dundreggan – Trees for Life’s flagship forest regeneration site – is gaining an international reputation for its biodiversity. It has been described as a Highlands ‘lost world’, where more than 3,000 species have been discovered, including 10 found nowhere else in the UK and others that are extremely rare.

Huw’s initial recordings at the site include the dawn and dusk choruses. Such recordings can be used to study bird population numbers and the range of species, as well as how species use different spaces to alter their songs or how sounds such as waterfalls, roads and human activity affect their behaviour.

Data on bird species can also be used as an indicator for overall biodiversity, and Huw is seeking funding to allow a deeper investigation of Dundreggan’s birdlife.

A permanent audio record will be gathered that could be used to help provide a detailed examination of Dundreggan’s ecological health, and to track progress in strengthening its biodiversity.

Encouraging people’s enjoyment of woodlands is also part of the project. Recordings of a ‘sound walk’ of Dundreggan’s waterfalls offer a sonic experience of the falls, for example, and musical sounds around rock pools have also been gathered. Some of Huw’s Dundreggan recordings feature on a new ‘Forests Of The World’ CD, available for free listening and download via

Huw is also looking to explore woodlands in the Czech Republic and Wales, to develop the soundscape project into a wider study across nations. For more details about his work, see

Award-winning Trees for Life – one of Scotland’s leading conservation charities – is restoring the Caledonian Forest in the Highlands to one of the UK’s wildest landscapes. See

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Sep 162016

Gaelic storyteller Ariel Killick.

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

The lost woods and wildlife of the Highlands are to be rediscovered thanks to a new Gaelic place-name map project led by conservation charity Trees for Life, which will promote the cultural importance of Scotland’s native woodland heritage.

The initiative was launched with a two-day, 20-mile symbolic journey – Turas Nan Craobh: A Journey With Trees – from Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston to Fort Augustus and Invergarry on 10 and 11 September 2016.

Native trees were transported by two ponies and planted at key sites where place-names evoke a particular tree.

Members of the community, school pupils, artists, heritage and walking groups, and Trees for Life ecologists followed sections of old military and drove roads. Gaelic storyteller Ariel Killick and poet Alec Finlay took part in special events.

“Place-names contain a record of past ecology and can shed light on the woods and wildlife that once thrived in the Highlands and could do so again, with a little assistance from people,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder.

“With native woodland now covering just four per cent of Scotland – one of the lowest percentages in Europe – we want to inspire communities and schools to discover more about our cultural and native woodland heritage, and to involve them in restoring the endangered Caledonian Forest.”

Participants in the Journey with Trees planted trees in gardens, school grounds and community green spaces, and in places where place-names evoke trees, such as Achadh-nan-darach – field of the oaks – on Abercalder Estate.

Poet Alec Finlay will now create the map – which will be used by schools and community groups, and to encourage tourism to less well-known areas – by exploring place-names relating to woodlands, animals, geology and human dwellings in Glen Affric, Glen Urquhart, Glenmoriston and Glen Garry.

His research will seek to identify place-names that indicate the past presence of woodland or animals, such as Creag a’ Mhadaidh – the wolf crag – in Glenmoriston, and Beinn Eun – hill of the bird – in Glen Affric. Old maps, photographs, artefacts, census information, newspaper articles and older people’s knowledge will all be used.

The map – called ‘From Creag a’ Mhadaidh to Dubh-Chamas nan Ùbhlan’ or ‘From The Wolf’s Crag to The Dark Bay of Apple Trees’ – will be created in stages, with place-names revealed as new findings are uncovered. It will be used in school and community events focused on rewilding and Gaelic in the landscape, and to encourage tourists to visit locations such as Glenmoriston, Glen Urquhart and Glen Garry.

Grace Grant of Glengarry Community Woodlands said:

“Our lovely historic woodland is part of our local heritage, and as we plan its regeneration we are delighted to work with Trees for Life.”

Alec Finlay’s blog at will feature information from the map together with poetry, linked to Trees or Life’s website at

More Info:

The mapping project is part of Trees for Life’s Rewilding the Highlands project, which also involves the planting of more than 50,000 trees and the creation of wildlife habitats. The project won the Alpine category of the 2016 European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) scheme, securing £23,000 through an online public vote.

Partners in the project include Glengarry Community Woodlands, Storyline Scotland, and The Scottish Storytelling Centre’s #DareTo Dream initiative.

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Sep 112016

Known more for filming nocturnal activities at music festivals and concerts, Dod Morrison turns his lens from the jet set to the badger sett. Photos and story by Dod Morrison. 

021-badgers-4-9-16-by-dod-morrison-photography-2-use-thisThe word Badger is said to derive from the French word Becheur meaning digger. Badgers have been present in the British Isles for at least 300,000 – 400,000 years.

Badgers live in complex underground burrow systems called setts, which can accomodate a group of six to ten individuals.

They are nocturnal animals, emerging from their setts soon after dusk and sniffing the air for danger before going about their activities.

This much loved animal is subject to persecution which stems back to the 70s when some badgers were found to be infected with TB. Some people thought that this could be passed on to cattle, and to combat this they starting gassing setts to keep the population of badgers down.

Even though there is no hard evidence that this is true, culling is still going on in some counties in England in 2016.

007-badgers-12-7-16-by-dod-morrsion-photography-2Road traffic is another problem for these creatures with as much as 40,000 being killed every year.

This is partly because badgers tend to habitually follow the same paths. So, if a road is built near a sett, the badgers just do as they normally do, placing them at the mercy of traffic.

On some new roads, however, badger tunnels are built underneath.

Imagine my delight when I was told where there was a sett and a good chance to see some of them up close and personal.

On arrival at this location, I put out some peanuts near where I thought they might appear.

011-badgers-16-7-16-by-dod-morrison-photography-2After sitting for about a hour, we could see something moving about in the gorse and then slowly we could see the familiar black and white stripes appearing over the ridge.

My heart skipped a beat and I started snapping away.

It looked up and I stopped and waited a few minutes until it got used to me, and then took more pics. I couldn’t believe how big it actually was.

Another smaller one appeared further down the gorse from a different hole and came out into the open and was even closer. Wow! I was hooked. We watched them for about 20 minutes.

004-badgers-august-2016-by-dod-morrison-photography-2Over the next few months I visited them on several occasions.

It is such a buzz when you see a head popping out of the sett and especially when it is one of the little cubs who are still quite shy and not as bold as the older ones.

When you see them out in the open away from the sett just milling about in the grass, it is joy to behold and fascinating to watch.

010-badgers-28-8-16-by-dod-morrison-photography-2They just wander around sniffing the air and then, noses to the ground, sniffing out earthworms.

Sometimes they just run around enjoying themselves.





Near badgers setts there is often have a tree they scratch.

To see them this near is great – especially when one of them plays peek-a-boo with you.

Not many people will see these wonderful animals in their natural habitat so it was pleasure and a privilege to see them.

016-badgers-4-9-16-by-dod-morrison-photography-2bMy first visit in September proved to be my most fruitful and exciting yet.

They were on top form, climbing up the small tree stems, coming real close for the next two hours and general just larking about.

There is one young cub who is very shy.

I have caught sight of his head, but he rarely ventures out.

However, tonight I believe I finally captured him.

This was a magical moment as were all the sightings of these wonderful animals.

All photography © Dod Morrison – all rights reserved.

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