Aug 042016

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

IMG_4744 Volunteer looking at a lichen

Trees for Life volunteer looking at a lichen.

Conservation charity Trees for Life is holding a public Bioblitz day in Glen Affric on Sunday 14 August, from 10.30am – 3.30pm, for anyone who wants to discover more about wildlife in the famous glen.

Everyone is welcome to call in at The Quarry car park near the end of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin, and to join in the free activities.

A group of wildlife specialists will be on the lookout for plants, fungi, insects, birds and mammals, and will be displaying interesting findings during the day.

There will be opportunities to make mini nature reserves, join bug hunts and guided walks, and hear a storyteller recount tales from forest folklore. The Bog Cotton Café will be on site, selling tea, coffee, cake and other delicacies from their village kitchen in Cannich.

Natural history groups joining the Bioblitz include specialists from Butterfly Conservation Scotland, British Dragonfly Society, Forest Enterprise Scotland, National Trust for Scotland and RSPB. Young Scot’s National Youth Biodiversity Action Group will be running activities for people of all ages.

Trees for Life is an award-winning conservation charity dedicated to restoring the endangered Caledonian Forest and to protecting its rare wildlife from extinction, and so far has created 10,000 acres of new forest. It has pledged to establish one million more trees, by planting and natural regeneration, by 2018.

People can support Trees for Life by becoming members and by funding dedicated trees and groves. Volunteers carry out almost all of the charity’s practical conservation work, including through

Conservation Weeks in beautiful locations. See

The Bioblitz event is part of Trees for Life’s Glen Affric Forest Restoration Project, which won the Outdoor category of the 2014 European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) scheme, securing £20,000 through an online public vote.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jul 212016

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

Steve and Paul with saplings (medium)

TfL’s CEO Steve Micklewright (left) and Paul Thomas, Superdry’s Energy and Environment Manager, at Dundreggan Conservation Estate.

Trees for Life’s work to save Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest and its rare wildlife has been given a welcome boost thanks to a £12,500 donation from fashion brand and retailer Superdry.

The donation was raised through sales of carrier bags from the company’s stores across Scotland, with its staff members voting for the funds to benefit award-winning conservation charity Trees for Life.

Superdry’s Energy and Environment Manager Paul Thomas recently spent a day at Trees for Life’s acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston near Loch Ness, to present the donation and to see some of the practical conservation action being carried out there – including the charity’s tree nursery where 60,000 native trees are grown each year.

Paul said:

“We are really proud to be supporting Trees for Life’s restoration of the Caledonian Forest, one of the country’s most iconic but endangered habitats. A healthy environment benefits everyone, and it’s inspiring to support this project which is bringing new life to the wild landscapes of the Highlands.”

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

“Initiatives like this make a real difference, with every £5 allowing us to plant a tree and every £50 enabling us to restore 50 square metres of native woodland. So this donation from Superdry is very good news for Scotland’s equivalent of a rainforest, and it will generate long-lasting benefits for woodlands, wildlife and people.”

Scotland’s 5p charge on carrier bags in stores aims to reduce plastic bag use. Superdry has gone one step further for the environment by ensuring that its bags are made of easily biodegradable paper rather than plastic.

Today only a fraction of the former Caledonian Forest survives, but Trees for Life has planted more than one million trees at dozens of locations, 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.

People can support Trees for Life by becoming members and by funding dedicated trees and groves. Volunteers carry out almost all of the charity’s practical conservation work, including through Conservation Weeks in beautiful locations. See or call 0845 458 3505.

Superdry ( is a contemporary brand focusing on high-quality products that fuse vintage Americana and Japanese-inspired graphics with a British style. It has gained an international celebrity following, and has a growing worldwide presence, operating through 515 Superdry branded locations in 46 countries. Superdry prides itself on great customer service and a hassle-free returns policy.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jul 112016

animals-176860_960_720With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Duthie Gardens will host a Butterfly Identifying and Recording Workshop this Wednesday.
Anyone interested should book now to secure a place on this workshop (Wednesday July 13, 10am to 3pm) to find out how to identify and record butterflies in your area.

Participants will spend the morning indoors at the Duthie Winter Gardens learning about butterflies, then go for a walk in the gardens in the afternoon.

Please bring your own packed lunch and suitable shoes and clothing for the outdoor session.

This workshop is led by Butterfly Conservation Scotland Staff and is part of the Urban Butterfly Project.

Loss of habitat, use of pesticides, weather, climate change are all having an impact on the butterfly and moth populations of Scotland.

Conservation is key, and everyone can do their part to help butterflies. Leave a corner of your garden with long grass and plants that butterflies use. Learn more on this course.

For more information visit the Urban Butterfly Project

To book one of the few remaining spaces, contact or call 01786 459 811.

Jul 082016

Sea Shepherd Global’s New Patrol Vessel.

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Sea Shepherd Global has launched its latest weapon in the battle to protect the world’s oceans; the new patrol vessel, Ocean Warrior.
After 18 months of construction by Dutch shipbuilding company, Damen, Ocean Warrior was lowered into the waters of Antalya Harbour in Turkey last Friday.

“This is a momentous day for Sea Shepherd, and for all of our supporters, and a bad day for poachers,” said CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, Captain Alex Cornelissen.

“The launch of the Ocean Warrior marks a new era for our organisation, as we now have a ship with the speed and capabilities to match the fastest poaching vessels in the world.”

Purchased thanks to the support and generosity of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the People’s Postcode Lottery in the United Kingdom and the Svenska Postkod Stiftelsen in Sweden, Ocean Warrior is now the fifth vessel in Sea Shepherd Global’s current fleet of conservation ships, and the fifteenth in the organisation’s history.

Geert Vons, Director of Sea Shepherd Netherlands, said,

“We are extremely grateful to the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Svenska Postkod Stiftelsen for their generosity, which has enabled us to build the Ocean Warrior. This new vessel will provide our crews with a huge advantage on the high-seas, increasing our capacity to defend precious wildlife in our oceans.”

Ocean Warrior will make its maiden voyage this September, when the ship sails to Amsterdam under the command of Captain Cornelissen. However, details about the ship’s first official anti-poaching campaign remain under-wraps.

“We can not reveal details about the Ocean Warrior’s activities beyond Amsterdam as yet. However, we are confident that our supporters will be very pleased with a campaign announcement that we have coming up in the next few months,” said Cornelissen.

Sea Shepherd were instrumental in protecting wildlife including seals in the Gardenstown area in the past, and continue to be interested and active in North East Scotland.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 172016
HWDT visitor centre (medium)

Pictured (left-right): Alison Lomax (Director, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust) with volunteer team members Lynsey Bland and Sam Udale-Smith at the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Centre in Tobermory (© HWDT)

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

A new marine wildlife visitor centre has been launched in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull by conservation charity Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust – to strengthen conservation action for whales, dolphins, and porpoises, and to develop the Hebrides’ appeal as a wildlife tourism hotspot.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Centre on Tobermory’s picturesque harbour front was formally opened this month, and will be a learning, training and volunteering hub, as well as providing a major attraction for visitors, including families and children.

The building’s transformation has been funded as part of a grant of almost £220,000 from the UK Government’s Coastal Communities Fund. The fully renovated and extended centre features information on sightings of cetaceans – the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoises – interactive exhibitions, displays and a gift shop.

“Our new centre aims to put Mull and the Hebrides even more firmly on the map as a key destination to enjoy and discover world-class marine biodiversity – which in turn will boost conservation, and could bring significant economic and social benefits to the region,” said Alison Lomax, Director of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.

The centre was recently launched with a celebratory event attended by dozens of guests from across the UK, including conservationists, scientists, volunteers and local businesses.

The trust’s previous shop and visitor centre attracted 26,000 people in 2015 – a figure that Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust hopes will now rise significantly.

With Western Scotland’s seas being one of Europe’s most important cetacean habitats, the charity believes that developing sustainable marine wildlife eco-tourism is a major opportunity, as demonstrated by the benefits of white-tailed eagles to the local economies of Mull and Skye.

So far 24 of the world’s estimated 92 cetacean species – including many national and international conservation priority species – have been recorded in the region, and fascinating new discoveries about these populations are constantly being discovered.

The Coastal Communities Fund has also enabled the trust to carry out an innovative Sea Change project across the Hebrides over the past two years, to strengthen people’s connections to the sea in remote island communities. This has involved engagement with thousands of people, through roadshows, community visits, liaison with wildlife tourism businesses, and dozens of events.

Responsible whale watching, WiSe (Wildlife Safe) accredited, training has been provided for 23 tour boat operators, while local people have been able to develop skills through the trust’s Community Sightings Network – through which people can report sightings of cetaceans, helping to map their distribution.

Sea Change has been carried out on Mull, Coll and Tiree, Islay and Jura, Colonsay, Barra, Small Isles (Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna), Mallaig and Arisaig, North and South Uist, Harris, Lewis, Gairloch and Skye.

The Coastal Communities Fund has also funded a refurbishment of the trust’s research yacht, Silurian, aboard which marine scientists and volunteers conduct surveys monitoring cetaceans each year. More than 90,000km of Hebridean seas have been surveyed and over 18,000 individual cetaceans recorded so far – significantly extending scientists’ knowledge and understanding, and informing long-term conservation initiatives.

Paying volunteers are being recruited for the trust’s 2016 expeditions onboard Silurian, working alongside marine scientists. For details, email, call 01688 302620 or visit

The Coastal Communities Fund was created to direct regeneration investment to seaside towns and villages to help rebalance local economies, reduce unemployment and create work opportunities for local young people.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 022016

TFL bothy event press release 3With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

An iconic but once derelict mountain bothy in Glen Affric has been transformed into an eco-friendly rewilding base by Trees for Life – creating the springboard for an ambitious 25-year programme of forest restoration which will extend Scotland’s Caledonian Forest towards the country’s west coast.

Around 100 people gathered at the remote Athnamulloch Bothy – which lies west of Loch Affric, on the National Forest Estate managed by Forest Enterprise Scotland – on Sunday 29 May to celebrate the building’s £137,000 renovation, which has been funded by generous donations and grants.

Broadcaster, writer and Trees for Life Patron Vanessa Collingridge officially reopened the bothy by unfurling a ceremonial sash featuring the tartan of Clan Chisholm, whose traditional homelands include Glen Affric. Environmental education charity Wild things! laid on activities for children, and guests were able to enjoy behind-the-scenes tours and a guided walk to the first trees planted by Trees for Life, in 1991.

“Saving Athnamulloch Bothy from dereliction – and giving it an exciting new lease of life as a base for conservation volunteering to help rewild one of Scotland’s great natural areas – represents a new era for our restoration of the Caledonian Forest in Glen Affric’s western reaches,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder.

“Our sincere thanks go to everyone who has helped make this project succeed. We can now embark on ambitious large-scale forest restoration work in partnership with Forest Enterprise Scotland, in which our volunteers will plant another 250,000 trees – extending Glen Affric’s endangered forests westwards, and creating crucial forest corridors and habitats for rare wildlife.”

Until the bothy became unsafe and was closed in 2008, Trees for Life’s volunteers used it for 17 years as a base for planting the first new Scots pines to grow in the area for centuries. With significant tree planting in the remote location virtually impossible without a place for volunteers to stay, the conservation charity undertook an ambitious fundraising drive to save the bothy.

In a major boost, almost half the costs were covered by a £60,000 award from the Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund, part of the Scottish Government’s Commonwealth Games Legacy 2014 programme.

Trees for Life secured the remaining funds through its Build the Bothy public appeal – fronted by broadcaster and wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan – and further grants, including £20,000 from the Moray-based Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation, £15,000 from The Robertson Trust, £10,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation and £1,000 from the James Thin Charitable Trust.

Highland Council was also very helpful in enabling a building in such a remote location to meet today’s stringent building control standards.

The bothy has now been renovated to a high ecological standard while retaining its rustic character. A kitchen, living room, bedrooms, drying room, wood burning stoves, composting toilet and a bathroom with eco-friendly energy and water systems have been installed, new timbers and flooring have replaced rotten woodwork, and a porch now provides for drier entry into the building, which is crucial given the area’s very wet climate.

Trees for Life has signed a 25-year lease for the building with Forest Enterprise Scotland, and the names of those who donated at least £250 are listed on a commemorative plaque in the building.

From Athnamulloch Bothy, Trees for Life is now launching its Back to Our Roots initiative. In partnership with Forest Enterprise Scotland, this will extend the native Caledonian Forest beyond its current stronghold in the east of the glen towards Scotland’s west coast – creating a continuous corridor of woodland across this part of the Highlands, and providing habitats for many species long lost from these deforested landscapes.

Through its Back to Our Roots fundraising appeal, the charity is seeking to raise £18,000 to fund the first phase of this tree planting and habitat creation, and to help achieve its ambition to establish one million more trees by planting and natural regeneration across the Highlands by 2018. For details, see or call 01309 691292.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 272016

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

Alpha wolf pack Dora, James and Matt (medium)

Pictured (L-R): Volunteer wolf pack Dora Clouttick, James Robertson and Matt McMullen at Dundreggan Conservation Estate

‘Project Wolf’ – a unique new conservation programme in which volunteers replicate the natural disturbance effects of Scotland’s extinct predators – has been launched in the Highlands near Loch Ness by Trees for Life.

Project Wolf is being trialled at the charity’s acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston, Inverness-shire, lying to the west of Loch Ness.

It involves volunteers operating in teams of three ‘wolves’, regularly walking through the ancient woodlands during the night and at dusk and dawn, creating disturbance that will keep deer on the move.

“Grazing pressure on young trees by too many deer, today undisturbed by natural predators, is the major threat to Scotland’s native forests. This is starkly apparent in the surviving Caledonian Forest, where many remnants consist only of old and dying trees because young trees cannot survive the relentless browsing,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder.

“Project Wolf – an innovative answer to this challenge – is supporting our reforestation work by creating a ‘landscape of disturbance’. By walking through Dundreggan’s woodlands at unpredictable times, the volunteers mimic the effect of wolves in keeping deer on their toes and less likely to spend time leisurely eating seedlings and young trees.

“This will encourage new trees to flourish – giving them the chance to form the next generation of forest giants that are desperately needed if the Caledonian Forest is to survive.”

The initiative is taking place during spring and early summer, when – without hunting activity or the presence of large predators – there is nothing to prevent deer from feasting on newly emerging seedlings and the new season’s growth on any young trees.

“Project Wolf is backed by a growing body of research which shows that predators have a much wider impact on their prey than just the animals they manage to hunt and kill. In many ways, the fear that the presence of predators generates in prey animals is just as important as their direct impacts,” said Doug Gilbert, Trees for Life’s Operations Manager at Dundreggan.

Spaces for volunteers for the Project Wolf programme are currently filled, with each volunteer joining for one month only, and Trees for Life is operating a waiting list for those wanting to take part.

In return for their sleepless nights, the volunteer ‘wolves’ are already encountering memorable wildlife experiences, as they are out and about when most people are asleep but when many species are active. Dundreggan is home to many nocturnal creatures including badgers, pine martens, foxes, owls and bats.

Project Wolf is part-supported by funding that Trees for Life received after winning a global conservation competition in March this year. The charity’s broader Rewilding the Highlands project – which also involves the planting of 50,000 native trees and the creation of habitats to offer a lifeline to rare wildlife – won the Alpine category of the 2016 European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) scheme, securing £23,000 as a result of an online public vote.

For more information, see or call 01309 691292.


  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 192016

With thanks to Gemma Setter, Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Walk About Ballater3 A five star walking programme is one in a long line of events showcasing how Royal Deeside continues to keep moving forward after Storm Frank affected the area in December last year.

Walk About Ballater 2016 takes place from May 23-27 and will offer the chance to explore scenic Ballater and its surrounding landscapes by foot.

A fleet of local volunteers will lead each event, giving visitors access to an abundance of in-depth knowledge about the Ballater area and its history.

Taking place over five days, each of the five events venture deep into the heart of Royal Deeside entirely on foot. With a countryside full of majestic mountains, lush greenery and picturesque lochs, it’s not difficult to see why Queen Victoria fell in love with the area over 150 years ago.

The series of events will allow visitors to explore some of the Royal Family’s favourite locations when they holiday in Scotland. Crathie – where the Royals attend church when in the area -Lochnager – said to be Prince Charles’ favourite mountain – and the famous River Dee will all be seen on the walks outside of Ballater.

Wildlife and nature enthusiasts will also be spoilt for choice during the programme, as the area is widely known for being rich in flora and fauna. Walkers may even catch sight of a pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, a rare species in Scotland although Deeside remains one of its strongholds.

John Burrows of Walk About Ballater 2016 says that the series of walking events will allow people of all ages and capabilities to experience the area and all of its natural beauty by foot.

He says,

“The village of Ballater is set in such beautiful surroundings and the only way you can truly get a feel for the area is by walking through it. Five walks have been organised, with the first starting on Monday 23rd of May.

“Each day will bring a different location, distance and ascent. The days range from a gentle four hour walk providing fantastic views over the Dee valley, to an 18km trek with a 430m ascend up to the impressive Craig Vallich.

“We’re very proud to be able to offer such a wealth of scenery and walking routes. Those taking part certainly won’t be disappointed, as the whole landscape of Royal Deeside is just spectacular.”

Richard Watts of Ballater Business Association says,

“Walk About Ballater is the perfect way to kick start our summer tourist season, the walks are a reminder of exactly why visitors return to Ballater year after year. The event organisers have been working extremely hard planning the perfect walking routes which will showcase the very best of what this area has to offer.

“It’s wonderful to see locals get involved by volunteering their time to lead walks and provide background information about Ballater to visitors. The community spirit which has been shown throughout this year is proving that the only way is forward for Ballater.”

The programme runs from May 23-27, with the first scheduled walk set to take participants on an 18km (11 mile) circular route starting from Ballater through the Glenmuick estates. This route is expected to take five-and-a-half hours and will pass the old curling ponds, as well as the Royal Bridge.

With the opening of the newly refurbished Ballater Caravan Park on Friday May 13, there’s never been a better time to enjoy a walking break in Royal Deeside. More information is available from

Walkers are welcome and can sign up on the day. For full details of the programme and times, please contact John Burrows at

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 022016

Suzanne Kelly visits Tullos Hill – years after the Tree For Every Citizen scheme saw its herd of deer destroyed to protect tree saplings, though the destruction was never going to guarantee successful tree growth. It’s not just the deer that have been destroyed. Story and photographs by Suzanne Kelly.

DSC00908If you visited Tullos before the city and its expensive consultant Jamie Piper got their hands on it, you would have found an area rich in wildlife including deer. Gorse provided habitat for deer, small mammals and birds. A huge portion of the gorse is gone – and so is the wildlife.

Paths have been excessively widened – you can now easily drive a SUV down them – and that meant further loss of habitat and path side plants and fungi.

Other councils in the UK are worried about damage to their wildlife sites; Staffordshire has a report warning of the damage caused by the tactics Aberdeen employs.

You can’t see the forest – but not because of the trees:

It’s one of the few reasonably clement days we’ve had in a while when I visit Tullos. On my walk to the entrance I am struck by how much the area has been transformed by the Wood Group building. We lost the land, houses were torn down, and we must have lot part of Tullos Hill if we lost the approach to the hill.

The city says that this path was narrow and difficult – or words to that effect. The path was far more like what you would find in an area that wanted to give habitat to wildlife rather than to make comfy recreational access at the expense of wildlife habitat. I think of the people who lived in the caravan park who would feed the deer. The people and the deer are gone now, and the Wood Group building and its parking facility tower over the cairn. This is progress.

Councillor Aileen Malone promised Aberdeen that shooting the deer, clearing the gorse, (while giving Piper £100,000 plus expenses now a five figure sum at last glance) would give us a forest. The Liberal Democrats had the twee-sounding ‘Tree For Every Citizen’ scheme as its election pledge last time around; some laugh at the fact the only pledge they did uphold was the one everyone asked them not to – killing deer to plant trees on a rubbish tip unlikely to sustain trees.

DSC00903This was my first visit to the Hill in a while; in particular I wanted to see how the trees and weeds were doing. I was struck by how wide the paths are – clearly the intention is to turn a former wildlife area into someone’s idea of a suburban recreation area suitable for vehicles.

There is the bench. There are the parking lot signs with their cheery squirrel and trees.

There is something prematurely self-congratulatory and smug about these items which is very much removed from the reality of what the hill looks like and its use for wildlife at present.

I did see one bit of wildlife – a bee was on a gorse flower. Gorse flowers year long providing food to bees; most of us seem to understand the importance of providing food for bees, which are under a variety of threats, not least loss of habitat like this. Pesticides were used on Tullos; finding a specific record of who was paid what to use which chemicals is not a simple task. Fungi which used to appear alongside the narrower paths have not been seen (at least by me) these past few seasons since the clearing and culling began.

No, I didn’t see any trace of a deer or any small mammals on the hill. There was barely any bird song, either. Some 10 years ago several species of bird were to be found; some of which were increasingly rare in the wild. I don’t’ see them nesting in this area again in numbers any time soon.

The pictures do show some trees have grown. There are also fairly new tree guards – far taller than any used previously. We were once told tree guards had ‘negative visual impact’ so we were not going to use them when we could kill the deer to stop them browsing the young trees instead. Where there are trees that have grown taller, even in the light wind on the day of the visit, they could be seen moving considerably in the breeze.

Experts previously told the city that trees which do establish will be subject to wind toss – there just simply is not good rooting material on this former waste tip – the roots won’t be sufficiently anchored to stop strong winds blowing the trees over.

how-do-you-blame-a-deer-for-this-30-april-2016-skelly2Some trees have no growth at all, despite being in intact tree guards – no deer has damaged them. On the other hand weeds choke many of the trees around and inside of the tree guards.

The city has already been warned that the job they did is not good enough for the funding received. It may not be too much longer before we see Aberdeen City hand back another tranche of money to the government for failing to grow trees on the rubbish tip of Tullos Hill.

As the old saying goes, ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different outcomes’. The City planted here before. Weeds killed the trees which did not thrive in the poor soil conditions.

The City blamed deer, and instead of using non-lethal methods (tree guards, fencing, choosing plants deer would not eat), The City slaughtered over 40 animals, then planted trees again. The trees are being killed by weeds, the trees are not thriving in the poor soil conditions.

The only people thriving from this sad state of affairs are those seeking to build their reputations (despite the actual facts) by proclaiming this to be a success – them, and the ones pocketing money for expertise (?), fencing (which originally we said we could not afford), herbicides and trees.

As part of the money he earned, Jamie Piper branded the thousands of citizens who signed a petition against the scheme and the 4 community council objectors as ‘a small but vociferous minority’. Who but a small and vociferous minority now says the hill is better off than before? No one other than those who gained say that the hill looks better now and is home to more wildlife.

There is no forest, and all the signs are there won’t be one. The city may have erected a new parking lot with signs to the ‘diamond woods’ – but calling Tullos a wood is hardly trades-description accurate.

DSC00891A View from the Cairn – of Wood Group’s new HQ:

Tullos had its paths widened.

The city also seems to have surrendered an access point and a large area adjacent to one of the three ancient cairns for the footprint of the Wood Group’s new HQ (a building and car park that by all accounts are underused).

The car park looms over the cairn, and the remaining wildlife is hardly going to benefit from the air pollution resulting from the construction and the uses (even if minimal) of the new parking.

What did the City say about losing the parking and the access?

“It would appear that in recent years the Council failed to maintain the car park and that the previous owners of the land (before Argon bought the site last year) have restricted access in order to stop unauthorised encampments from occupying the land. This has resulted in the car park falling into disrepair and access to the hill becoming overgrown, although it was still possible to walk from the car park onto the hill.

Whilst the proposed office building could be constructed and site laid out with the existing public car park remaining in place, Argon expressed a desire to have the car park removed, in order to allow more extensive landscaping to be provided around the development.”
– email to Cllr N Cooney of April 2014

So, we couldn’t maintain one parking lot on land gifted to us, directly adjacent to the Hill’s entrance – land coincidentally useful for this development. However, the city is confident it will be able to maintain the new parking lot.

near the entrance to the hill 30 april 2016 skellyAs to the quality of landscaping referred to in the email; other than having the Wood Group building and its parking making a negative impact on Tullos and the cairn, it’s hard to see what landscaping they are talking about.

As an aside, the email in question admits that air quality on Wellington Road falls short of desired standards.

A new building and its parking will hardly help improve things.

A few changes, none for the better:

More trees have been planted; some of the new guards dwarf the previous tree guards. This is likely the result of a recent warning from the government to ACC that the trees aren’t sufficient either in number or condition, and there is a chance the grant may have to be returned. I wonder how much this new work has cost.

Not content with the area cleared for the tree scheme, gorse clearance continues apace. It is as if there were some pressing need to get rid of this important plant when the reality is they cannot control the trees they have planted – perhaps watching the gorse grow effortlessly is an affront to the egos involved.

gorse destruction 30 april 2016 skellyOverall the effect is one of dead and dying gorse separated from empty tree guards, all surrounded by weeds. It is as if a man balding in patches were desperately trying to implant new hair – then again, I’ve been concerned lately with the Trump campaign – and this is probably where that image came from.

If you go down to the woods today, you won’t be going to Tullos. Bring back the deer.

Remember – the people who insisted this was cost neutral and must go ahead are Liberal Democrat Aileen Malone and the rest of her party: are you going to vote Lib Dem this year? NB – the price of this ‘cost neutral’ scheme so far (less any new planting) is estimated at £600,000 – and no officer or supporter has been called to account for this remarkable mismanagement to date.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Apr 142016

small Loch Affric TFL featWith thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR

A quarter century of volunteering conservation action in the Highlands is being marked by Trees for Life this month, with a new initiative aiming to expand Scotland’s Caledonian Forest from Glen Affric towards the west coast.
The bid to restore life to deforested parts of the famous glen comes as the award-winning charity next week marks the 25th anniversary of its acclaimed Conservation Weeks, in which volunteers from around the world carry out practical conservation action to protect Scotland’s natural environment.

Trees for Life’s Back to Our Roots appeal is seeking to raise £18,000 for a new phase of tree planting by volunteers in Glen Affric this year – extending the endangered Caledonian Forest westwards of the area planted by the charity’s first Conservation Weeks 25 years ago, and creating vital habitats for wildlife.

“Back to Our Roots is an important new phase of our work in partnership with Forest Enterprise Scotland in Glen Affric. It will extend the native woodland beyond its current stronghold in the east of the glen towards Scotland’s west coast, creating a continuous corridor of forest across this part of the Highlands,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder.

“Helping a new generation of young trees to take root further west in Glen Affric will create an important addition to what is the largest extent of least disturbed forest in the country. This will provide habitats for a host of species – including some, such as the red squirrel, that have been lost from these deforested landscapes for far too long.”

The Caledonian Forest is an internationally-important forest ecosystem, providing a home for spectacular wildlife. But today the forest occupies a tiny fraction of its former extent and – decimated by centuries of exploitation and overgrazing – it consists of small and isolated fragments, mainly old trees nearing the end of their lives.

Over the past 25 years, however, Trees for Life’s volunteers have helped to plant more than one million trees at dozens of locations across the Highlands. The first of those trees – 5,800 Scots pines – were planted in Glen Affric in April 1991, including during the charity’s first ever Conservation Week, which was based at Athnamulloch bothy and began on 20 April.

Since then, through the work of Forest Enterprise Scotland and Trees for Life, a remarkable transformation has taken place in parts of Glen Affric, with a new generation of trees creating a reforested landscape – in turn offering much-needed habitat that now supports a flourishing population of plants, insects, birds and wildlife, including the rare black grouse.

Through Back to Our Roots, Trees for Life aims to build on this success story, and to help achieve its ambition to establish one million more trees by planting and natural regeneration across the Highlands by 2018.

For more information, see or call 01309 691292.


  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.