Oct 03 2019

The Croft Woodlands Project – it’s all about quality

Woodland Trust Volunteer Ian Baird recently visited the Isle of Mull with the Trust’s Croft Woodland Project Officer for Argyll & Lochaber, Iona Hyde. The purpose of the visit was for Iona to carry out a number of project monitoring visits and for Ian to better his understanding of the wider benefits of growing trees in the crofting counties of Scotland.


The Trust’s Croft Woodlands Project is successfully transforming many deforested parts of the Highlands and Islands, often described as ‘wet deserts’, through the reintroduction of native woodland cover to provide a wide range of ecological and economic benefits. Recent land reform legislation and new crofting legislation in Scotland has facilitated community ownership, including the potential to plant new woodland and create new crofts, and as a result there’s an ongoing and ever expanding mosaic of robust and resilient environmental and economic activity throughout the crofting counties in Scotland.



Site access on the Scottish islands can be difficult. This 2km track is the only access from the main road (which itself is a single rack road an hour’s drive from the ferry from the mainland) to the Camas Outdoor Centre on the Ross of Mull where a 1.4km new native woodland has been planted by the Iona Community. The track is not suitable for vehicular access, so all of the plants, tubes and stakes were transported from the drop off point on the main road in wheelbarrows by volunteers.



Part of the 1.4ha Camas Wood, planted in March 2018



Rhyddian Knight and Darragh Keenaghan of the Iona Community at Camas Outdoor Centre on Mull who oversaw the planting of a 1.4ha new native woodland at the remote centre with the help of many volunteers and friends of Camas.


In the short time that Ian spent visiting projects in Mull he witnessed native trees and shrubs being planted for a variety of benefits including being used for: improved shelter for livestock and crops, insulation for polytunnels and outbuildings; creation of shelter belts and hedges; improved horticultural production; improved soil quality by reducing flooding and ground saturation; provision of a sustainable source of wood fuel and increasing the wildlife and biodiversity  value of crofts.


New hedge planted in March 2019 on in-bye land on a croft on the Ross of Mull to provide shelter for livestock.




The overriding thing that Ian discovered on his visit was that a modest quantity of trees can make a huge difference on small croft. As Iona and the crofters were able to demonstrate “it’s all about quality” and the multitude of small areas of trees currently being planted over the vast area of the crofting counties is clearly having a transformative effect.






Trees planted on Erraid, a tidal island off the western tip of the Ross of Mull to extend an existing mature woodland.

New trees on Erraid


An adder enjoying the warmth of wooden slats on a site access track on the Ross of Mull.


For further information click on the link below:



Ian Baird

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