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.
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.
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.
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