Andy Howard Nature Photography | Trees For Life Supporters Day

Trees For Life Supporters Day

May 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Trees for Life - Supporters Day

Andy with a germinated Hazelnut

For those of you that have been on a guided day or photo workshop with me, you will have received a gift card from me supporting a charity called 'Trees for Life'. Each gift card explains a bit about a tree that has been planted on your behalf and the work of the charity. I may have even talked to you about the organisation and the great work they do.

I was therefore delighted to receive an invitation from them recently to visit their flagship Dundreggan Estate in Glen Morrison and be able to see for myself some of the working they are carrying out.

Young Rowan Saplings

Dundreggan has been in the ownership of T.F.L since 2008 and is a 10,000 hectare upland estate. The estates previous owner used it on occasion to stalk Red Deer and interestingly at that time it only employed one person, the stalker. I was very impressed today to hear that there are now six full time and five part time employees working at this location, one of which is Alan the original stalker.

As well as the main body of work being carried out, the regeneration of the native Caledonian forest and ecosystem, other activities happening here are a tree nursery consisting of six poly tunnels. The lodge on site provides accommodation for the workers and also the volunteers during conservation weeks. There are also students and other organisations working on the estate conducting studies and experimental work in various specialist fields, tree canopy biodiversity and re-generation of montane scrub to name just a couple. All in all it’s quite a busy place!

Birch Saplings in root trainers

Why were we there?

Both Lyndsey and I have had a love of the Caledonian pine forests for as long as we can both remember. When my photography business started to grow I thought it would be a good idea to support a cause close to our hearts, it was a totally natural decision to pledge our support to these guys.

In the future as my business develops and grows so will my commitment to T.F.L, call it 'corporate social responsibility' if you like. I call it 'Giving back to nature' (Read about it HERE).

The day started with a choice of activities, we opted to go on a guided walk with the Operations Manager (Doug) and the Stalker (Alan) to meet and learn about the three bracken bashing Wild Boar!

One of the girls!

Apparently Wild Boar are one of only a few species that eat bracken. Bracken chokes most other plant species that try to compete with it and therefore is not very helpful in regenerating a native forest.

Not only do the Boar eat the bracken they also turn over the ground which helps to provide the ideal conditions for tree seeds to germinate.

As we moved past the Boar's enclosure we were told about the Goat Moth and how the larvae burrow in to Silver Birch and live on the sap of the tree. To the trained eye these trees are fairly obvious, not only do they look a bit sickly but as a result of the larvae’s activity, there are often accumulations of butterflies feeding on the tree sap emitted.

The amount of dedication to one particular species was quite evident when it was explained to us that in August it is possible to see a very rare solitary bee called the Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena marginata). The issue with this particular bee is that it only feeds on one species of plant called scabious. This in turn only flourishes in clear and sunny positions. Luckily for the bees the volunteers have recently cleared some juniper scrub and planted lots of their preferred plants grown at the on-site nursery.

Row upon row of native seedlings

After Lunch Lyndsey and I fancied getting our hands a bit dirty so we volunteered to do a shift in the nurseries poly tunnels, the choice to do this was in no way influenced by the cold and rainy conditions!

It takes a lot of concentration to get it right!

It was heart lifting to see row upon row of young trees and seedlings. All of TFL’s stock is grown from native seed and cuttings. We spent a couple of enjoyable hours sorting through Hazelnuts, picking through germinating nuts and then planting them into deep root seed trays.

Lyndsey checking hazelnuts for signs of germination

The day was wrapped up by a lovely slice of cake and a talk from TFL’s founder Alan. I first met Alan in 1986 when I was more interested in becoming a ski racer! His ethos and vision shone through to me then and I’m pleased to report it still shines bright and strong today if not brighter. It was also great to hear about the projects this wonderful organisation has planned for the future.

I’m so proud to be able to support such a great cause and thanks to my clients both past, present and future together we will continue to support them.

Read more about Dundreggan and Trees for Life HERE


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