Glen Rosa Woodland Revival

The National Trust for Scotland are hosting a volunteer tree planting day next week on Thursday 5th December, to help with our landscape scale woodland revival project in Glen Rosa. Their aim for the week – to plant 1,000 trees in one of Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes; Glen Rosa on the Isle of Arran. Generously supported by the players of Peoples Postcode Lottery, the project aims to revive woodland landscapes lost gradually overtime.

Tree loss in Glen Rosa started with felling by the first Bronze age settlers, then grazing by community farmers, followed by sheep after the people were cleared from the Glen during the clearances and now sheep are replaced by red deer. The remaining trees in the Glen cling to steep sided gullies or crags where the deer can’t reach. Now deer will be fenced out of a 400 ha area, allowing the ground to recover from over grazing and enabling us to kick start the habitat revival by planting trees.

This ambitious project aims to plant 40,000 trees this winter. Native broadleaf species have been selected for planting including the endemic Arran Whitebeam and locally sourced aspen. These will be planted with oaks, hazel, birch and willows, creating a naturalistic upland woodland.

Arran is famous for its three endemic trees: the Arran Whitebeams. Only found on Arran, they are some of the most endangered trees in the world. Over the years a local tree ‘guru’ Henry Murdo, has been collecting seed and propagating the Arran Whitebeams. His trees will find a new home in Glen Rosa, hopefully securing the species for the future.

Henry Murdo and Margo McLellan planting trees alongside the Thistle Campers last week

Aspens on Arran are another tree species living on the edge. A DNA survey of our remaining aspen revealed that only female trees were left in the Glen. Now we are planting males that have been micro propagated from root cuttings of aspens taken from other parts of the island thanks to Forestry & Land Scotland. Only through our new planting will the aspens have a chance of producing new baby aspens!

But it’s not all about the trees, only a small part of the fenced off area will be planted leaving open space for hunting golden eagles and visually the mountains will still be glimpsed through the open canopy. However 40,000 trees will have a positive impact, increasing biodiversity, helping reduce climate change not only through storing carbon dioxide but also through reducing the impact of flood events and landslips and reducing the risk of heathland fires.

One of the most rewarding parts of this project has been the over whelming positive response shown from the community. Many people have offered up their time to help plant trees. Others who can no longer help physically have given donations for more trees. The local school, Brodick Primary School, have been out planting as have Syrian refugee families. Together they are helping to make a difference and although the work may be hard with a long walk in and sometimes challenging weather conditions, at the end of the day almost everyone comes back smiling. So let’s hope the sun shines on our 12 volunteers who are giving up a day of their time to plant trees. Physically and mentally it’s good to be a part of something that is changing our environment for the better.

Some of the island’s Young Naturalists group hard at work in the glen

Quotes from Brodick Primary School pupils:

‘I would like to plant trees because it will look really nice and more animals will come back to Glen Rosa’
‘….. to make the glen healthy’
‘…..because it will look better and the view will be much better than now’
‘…to provide more oxygen not just for humans but wildlife too’

Last week’s fabulous working holiday group (aka the Thistle Campers) planted a grand total of 3362 native broad-leaved trees in Glen Rosa – whoa! Now here’s the chance for YOU to get involved! Join us on Thursday the 5th of December for our Tree planting day in Glen Rosa to help the woodland grow, bringing back the trees that once thrived in the glen.

Photos of the Thistle Camp team



For logistical reasons, spaces are limited, so please book via the event link on the Arran Ranger facebook page or contact:

Featured image shows the intrepid Thistle Campers who planted well over 3,00 trees at the end of November