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Highlands conservation opportunities announced

Volunteer planting juniper

Volunteer planting juniper

Conservation charity Trees for Life has announced details of its Conservation Weeks for 2013, offering people the opportunity to make a positive difference to the environment whilst experiencing an unforgettable visit to the Scottish Highlands.

Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Executive Director, said: “The Year of Natural Scotland is the perfect time to enjoy Nature and wild Scotland, and to take action to restore the Caledonian Forest and its unique wildlife. Our 2013 Conservation Weeks offer an inspiring hands on conservation experience in breathtaking Highlands scenery of mountains, forest and rivers.”

Trees for Life is restoring the Caledonian Forest to a spectacular wilderness region of 1,000 square miles in the Highlands to the west of Loch Ness and Inverness.

The award-winning weeks will allow people from all sorts of backgrounds and experience to directly help in the restoration of Scotland’s equivalent of a rainforest. Trees for Life is running Conservation Weeks at eight locations in the Highlands between mid-March and November.

To mark the Year of Natural Scotland, Trees for Life is introducing new Wildlife Weeks for conservation volunteers who also want to spend extra time learning about and observing the Caledonian Forest’s outstanding wildlife.

The specially-designed Wildlife Weeks include day trips to the Isle of Skye to see white-tailed eagles, the third largest eagle in the world; to Aigas Field Centre at Beauly, Inverness-shire to see the beavers living on the loch; and the opportunity to feed wild boar at Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston to the west of Loch Ness.

The Conservation Weeks suit all abilities and anyone over 18 years old can take part. There is no upper age limit, but the work can be physically demanding, so volunteers need a reasonable level of fitness. Special weeks concentrating on work in the charity’s tree nursery at its Dundreggan Estate offer a gentler but equally important option.

Sarah Macavoy, who volunteered with Trees for Life at Corrimony, said: “The week inspired me in that, even though there are a lot of problems in the world, people can make a difference. Volunteering is about getting out there and doing something to make a positive impact with other like-minded people.”

Natalie Allain, who volunteered in Glen Affric, said: “My experience volunteering with Trees for Life was nothing but positive. I came away with a new love for the Scottish Highlands, a heightened respect for the majesty of trees and some great new friends!”

The charity has just produced a new film that shows what its volunteers have achieved, and how the long decline of the Caledonian Forest is being reversed through their work.

Although only a fraction of the former Caledonian Forest now survives, volunteers with Trees for Life have helped to plant more than one million trees at dozens of locations, and to create 10,000 acres of new forest.

“We have pledged to establish one million more trees by planting and natural regeneration within the next five years. Every volunteer who takes part in our Conservation Weeks will be helping to achieve something very special,” said Alan Watson Featherstone.

BBC Wildlife Magazine has voted Trees for Life’s Conservation Weeks as one of the Top 10 Conservation Holidays in the World




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