Nov 11 2020

Making Trees for the future at Loch Arkaig

As the demand for new native trees rises with ambitious tree planting targets, it’s becoming harder for the supply to keep up.  In some parts of Scotland it’s getting trickier to get hold of locally provenant trees for our planting projects, both on our own land and for our projects where we support landowners, communities and crofts.  


Certain species are harder to get hold of too, for example crab apple and montane willow species.


So we are gradually building up momentum towards more proactive involvement in tree seed collection, including by volunteers.


This has come to fruition already at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest where a team of 8 new tree seed collection volunteers have already been registered and have had their first collection day.  The volunteers were trained by Craig Shearer, who used to work for Alba Trees but is now a freelance consultant passionate to supporting tree seed collecting initiatives.  The volunteers worked in socially distanced “pods” of up to 3 including the trainer plus 2 people from the same household as each other to adhere to our safe Covid guidelines.


On the day the volunteers, some of whom already volunteer for us as Woodland Working Group Members and Ospreycam editors, collected oak, alder, rose, and holly. They collected over 10kg of acorns and a great time was had by all.  


We also plan to collect Scots Pine seeds from the Ancient Caledonian Pine Forest on the site, but as this requires some hair raising tree climbing to great heights up the spectacular and majestic ‘granny pines’.


Here are some photos of this momentous first tree seed collection day at Arkaig!




The seeds will be grown by the Arkaig Community Forest, who own part of the site and have been successful in appointing a project officer who is establishing a small tree nursery onsite.  The trees will then be used as part of our restoration of the ancient woodland at this spectacular place, complementing the natural regeneration we will be encouraging there.  You can read more about Loch Arkaig here.


As well as growing seeds on on site, as we will be doing at Loch Arkaig, there are quite a few community tree nurseries emerging across Scotland and we are looking at ways that our volunteers can support these, or even on a larger scale to provide seeds for bigger tree nurseries.  It’s all incredibly exciting!


Matilda Scharsach

Scotland Volunteering Development Officer

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