Happy National Volunteers Week from the Scotland Director
Dear Woodland Trust Scotland volunteer,
Some of you may have heard that Carol Evans, former Director of Woodland Trust Scotland, retired a couple of months ago. Carol is sorely missed for her energy, “can do” approach and amazing warmth and passion.
She’s a hard act to follow, but I’ve stepped in as interim Director until a replacement is appointed, and I wanted to drop in to Whittle in National Volunteers’ Week to thank you all for your hard work and for sticking with us throughout the pandemic. My name is Ian Price and my usual day job is as Scotland Ambassador, developing relationships with those who make significant financial donations to our work.
I hear from Matilda, Volunteering Development Officer, that many of you have worked harder than ever during Covid times. Many of our woods have suffered from the effects of extra visitor pressure as the public have stayed closer to home for recreation and holidays instead of going abroad. This has led to some localised increases in litter and fly tipping, and other antisocial uses of our woods.
To those of you that are already Woodland Wardens or Woodland Working Group Members, and those of you who kindly stepped in as Relief Wardens to help out, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your incredible dedication.
I was out doing my stint on ‘Bluebell Patrol’ at Kinclaven last Friday and it’s clear just what a difference your time and effort has been in keeping precious woodlands like this one safe.
I also had the chance to go out on the fields at the top of the hill and take a look at the new trees that are now growing across them. The very last thing I did before lockdown last year was to join in with so many of you in planting those trees in the freezing cold! It was a massive effort but has made such an impact – the trees are thriving and there were yellowhammers, skylarks and willow warblers singing everywhere. Seeing the difference that has been made was truly uplifting.
Whatever volunteering you do for us, we simply couldn’t do it without you. We have nearly 400 volunteers in Scotland, which increases our capacity hugely. In comparison, we have just 35 staff and could never carry out all the work that you do for us.
Many of you have been with us for a while, including quite a few for well over 10 years, and I have met many volunteers at places as diverse as Loch Arkaig Pine Forest, Livingston and at our Scottish Parliament events.
Some of you are new and were appointed at the start of the pandemic and have never really been able to commence volunteering with us because of Covid restrictions. However, as rules become less restrictive most of our volunteer roles are opening up again, we hope that you’ll all be able to get stuck into your tasks at last.
Recent significant and frustrating technical issues as well as the ongoing Covid situation haven’t dampened our momentum at the Woodland Trust in Scotland and around the UK. We have launched our key report, The State of the UK’s Woods and Trees, which we are using already as a tool to influence government decision and policy makers as well as to inform our woodland management actions on the ground. We are continuing to buy new woods across the UK, including an extension to our beautiful Butterdean Wood in East Lothian.
At Loch Arkaig our careful and long researched plans to extract non native conifers from the site are about to reach fruition, in order to restore more of the magnificent ancient Caledonian Pine Forest. We will be using innovative techniques, such as removing timber by barge and direct seeding of newly exposed soil with tree seed collected from the site.
Thank you once again for being part of the Woodland Trust team and enabling us to achieve so much for Scotland’s woods and trees. I’m looking forward to seeing you out and about before too much longer!
Acting Scotland Director