Mar 19 2020

Immersion in all things volunteering for University of the Highlands and Islands students

Recently I gave a talk to students from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) about how volunteering works with the Woodland Trust.  After this, we headed out for an enjoyable day’s ancient tree recording in Glen Nevis, the beautiful glen below our highest mountain.  The day was organised by Jessica Maxwell, Project Manager at Loch Arkaig, and Rory Stewart, who works for the Nevis Landscape Partnership, but also teaches the students as well as being a Woodland Trust volunteer at Loch Arkaig!


We started off by recording trees in an old churchyard on the way to Glen Nevis.

The inspiring and happy group of students!  Rory from  Nevis Landscape Partnerhsip is 2nd from the left and Jessica Maxwell is 2nd from the right.

Recording a beautiful old holly tree.

The churchyard contained some beautiful stone carving.


The students were fantastic and got stuck into the tree recording with great enthusiasm, even though, earlier in the morning, they’d been helping to clean out an old curling pond!


We recorded in the stunning Glen Nevis, including this beautiful ash tree, which we were delighted to see didn’t seem to be showing any signs yet of Ash Dieback.


Recording an incredibly characterful old “granny pine”!

“Stinky Sticta”…kids love this lichen as it smells of rotting fish if you scratch it and sniff your fingers!

The students are studying for a National Certificate in Countryside Management (SCQF Level 5) and the day went towards their study for the unit of Volunteering in Environmental Conservation (SCQF level 5), which forms part of the National Certificate or can be studied as a Unit on its own.













Lobaria pulmonaria (tree lungwort) is a classic ‘rainforest’ lichen that thrives in our damp and mild west coast climate. Victorians used to assume that because it resembles lung tissue, it would be useful in curing lung disorders.


I really enjoyed the day and it was a pleasure to meet such inspiring, young people.  Most of the group have now signed up as members of our Loch Arkaig Woodland Working Group, which is fantastic!


Matilda Scharsach

Scotland Volunteering Development Officer

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