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Caledonian Forest and Wildcat conservation plans win awards

Alan Watson Featherstone

Alan Watson Featherstone

Conservation charity, Trees for Life, received a double boost yesterday (30 October) when the conservation charity was announced as a finalist for the People's Millions televised vote to win up to £50,000 of Lottery funding, and its founder won the Outstanding Contribution to Nature category at the RSPB's Nature of Scotland Awards 2013. The Awards also recognised the innovative work of The Cairngorms Wildcat Project which has raised the plight of the ‘Highland Tiger’ in public consciousness and come up with a workable plan to conserve the species.

The People’s Millions is a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund and ITV, in which the public decide which local community projects will each receive up to £50,000 of Lottery funding.

Trees for Life has been chosen as a finalist for its plan to establish its acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate – a 10,000-acre forest regeneration site and biodiversity hotspot to the west of Loch Ness – as a leading conservation volunteer training centre. The public vote will take place by phone all day on 27 November, and STV North will broadcast a televised feature that evening. For details on how to vote see the Trees for Life website.

Trees for Life’s project aims to specifically benefit people from diverse backgrounds – including disadvantaged people such as those on low incomes or who are unemployed. Many such people currently have limited access to healthy outdoor activities and training opportunities.

Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Executive Director, said: “We are urging people to vote for us in the People’s Millions vote on 27 November. Success would be a huge boost to our work to save the ancient Caledonian Forest, which is both internationally important and the UK’s equivalent of a rainforest.

“This remarkable woodland is still in decline, with many of its rare and unique species at risk of extinction. The stakes are high and we are the last generation with the opportunity to save this natural treasure.

“Our People’s Millions project is about people as much as places. It will fund specialised training for volunteers to enable them to make an enhanced, positive contribution to the return of Scotland’s native forests, and will also provide accredited training for leading volunteer groups.”

The Trees for Life project will encourage volunteers, who otherwise might not get the chance to do so, to learn about threatened habitats and species, and benefit from time spent in green places and from activities that are good for mental and physical health. A range of activities will ensure that the project is accessible for older people and those with limited mobility, and those affected by mental health issues or other challenges.


People taking part in the project will also transform their natural environment. They will be able to help carry out vital restoration work – such as planting trees and wild flowers, collecting seeds and roots for propagating rare species, growing trees and plants in our tree nursery, removing non-native species and carrying out biodiversity surveys.

Meanwhile, Alan Watson Featherstone – who founded Trees for Life, one of Scotland’s leading conservation charities, in 1986 – won the Outstanding Contribution to Nature category at the RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards 2013. The accolade was announced at a special ceremony held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh on 30 October.

The awards recognise and celebrate excellence, innovation and outstanding achievement in Scottish nature conservation. The Outstanding Contribution to Nature award is made to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the conservation of nature in Scotland or overseas.

Alan’s wide-ranging, long-term work to change humanity’s impact on Nature and the planet has also helped to provide inspiration for ecological restoration projects in the Scottish borders, on Dartmoor in England, and on the island of Tierra del Fuego in the far south of Chile.

Trees for Life has so far planted more than one million trees at dozens of locations in the Highlands, and has created 10,000 acres of new forest. It has pledged to establish one million more trees by planting and natural regeneration by 2018.

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