News From Alladale: The ‘Lost Eden’ in The Scottish Highlands

16 January 2012

Carbon Manager's Clients Help Restore this Great Wilderness



The Scottish Highlands are considered one of Europe's last great areas of wilderness, yet much of the flora and fauna that once thrived here has been driven to extinction by the activities of man. Over the past five years Carbon Managers has planted over 30,000 trees on behalf of its clients to help restore this wild and beautiful landscape. Not only do these trees support some of the UK’s rarest species, they are also essential in helping to reduce pollution, generate oxygen and maintain wildlife habitats - particularly in the UK where only 12% of land is wooded, compared with an average of 32% in other European countries.

The Challenges

The Highland Glens have been cleared of trees over the last few centuries. Scotland’s native Caledonian Pine forest, which once covered an expanse of 1.5 million hectares, has been drastically reduced to just 16,000 hectares. As a result, the landscape has altered dramatically; grass, moss and heather now predominate, giving it a very barren and windswept appearance; tree roots are no longer present to help bind the soil together preventing erosion and providing micro-climates for other plant species. Increasing numbers of deer damage the landscape, grazing on new shoots, as they no longer kept in check by carnivore predation.



The world-renowned Alladale Reserve is the location for some of the most important forestry research and conservation. In conjunction with the Scottish Government and the Forestry Commission many native trees have been replanted along five river banks over a five year period. Those trees including Caledonian pine, alder, holly, aspen and oak. This will help regenerate the river banks and the rivers themselves.


Ground-breaking Research Projects

Oxford University's WildCru research division has several projects operating in Alladale. These include a test to see if wild boars' rooting behaviour helps sustain plant species; monitoring the unique Scottish Wildcat (fewer than 400 remain) and assessing its potential for reintroduction in the reserve; helping Red Squirrels with wildlife corridors; reintroduction of European Bison - in Autumn 2011, seven European Bison were imported to Scotland. Bison play an important role as browsers in maintaining mixed biodiversity-rich habitat of woodland and grassland and are also a vulnerable species so this project will hopefully enhance the gene-pool.





Alladale are also involved in research into management of the predatory American Mink, which is an invasive species which - following escapes from fur farms last century - continues to damage native UK species.


Carbon Capture: the Natural Way


One of the greatest advantages of planting trees is their potential to capture carbon from the atmosphere. Approximately 50 years ago the vast peat lands of the Scottish Highlands began to be drained, by the digging of some 800,000 miles of man-made channels. This was done to open up the land as grazing for sheep, cattle and deer, and supported by government grants. An unforeseen consequence of this action was the annual release of 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, huge degradation of the natural habitat and a serious decline in the water quality of once pristine river systems.

The Alladale project is a significant step in reversing this process. By the autumn of 2012, 600,000 native trees will have been planted and areas of the peat land restored.

 

Education and Raising Awareness


Working with Challenger Trust and local schools, they have co-financed a Youth Development and Education programme on the Alladale Wilderness Reserve. This year, 220 students from seven local schools spent four days and nights wild camping on the reserve to learn vital life-skills, including team-building, problem-solving and the essentials of conservation work. They now plan to extend the Alladale model to other regional areas of Scotland with a goal of 1,000 students taking up the challenge on six estates in 2012.



Carbon Managers' Clients lead the way

Carbon Managers' clients who have planted trees in 2011 include electronics giant Toshiba, event managers Penhaligon, global business consulting brand Cognizant, heating and airconditioning experts Daikin, and online courier company Parcel Monkey. Paul Sharp, Retail Marketing Executive of Toshiba says, "We joined the Trees4Business programme to enhance our environmental sustainability whilst giving our customers a way to support the regeneration work at the Alladale Estate." Carbon Managers partners with forward-looking and environmentally conscious companies from a wide variety of industry sectors to reduce the impact that business processes make on the natural world. Peter Verkempynck, Managing Director, Daikin UK - planting 3,500 trees, says: “We are delighted that we can work with Carbon Managers to take part in the Trees4Bbusiness campaign. As a highly innovative company focused on reducing carbon emissions through our extensive product range of renewable technologies, we felt that we could do more as a business to offset our own carbon emissions. This initiative has given us the perfect opportunity to do so whilst supporting endangered wildlife and charitable causes.”

Websites: 

Carbon Managers

Challenger Trust

Alladale Wilderness Reserve



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