Tuesday 12 January 2016

Celebrating a year of Junior Rangers

Its now a year since we first set up Junior Rangers at Corehead Farm, in collaboration with the National Trust for Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council.

We had a party in December to celebrate all the hard work that has been achieved over the year, look back at all the different activities we did and give out Junior Ranger certificates. There was also the obligatory feasting and chance to play a lot of games! 

This is Richard from the  NTS demonstrating how to wear the perfect reindeer antlers

Now its everyone's turn!

Ta da!

Snowball shooting competition

Weaving willow stars

Our creations

Its been such a great year, thanks to everyone involved for making Junior Rangers such an inspiring group.

After a break in January, Junior Rangers begins again in February, with more trees to plant, skills to learn and wildlife to look out for.

Can't wait!

Ali Murfitt
Community and Education Officer

Monday 11 January 2016

Borders Tree Planting Grant in action at March Wood

The Borders Tree Planting Grant that was launched on the 29th of April this year has been receiving applications now for over 7 months and the season for planting trees has finally arrived, and after helping a number of applicants successfully access grant funding for their small woodland planting projects (less than 0.25 hectares) the planting of trees that have been funded by the grant is under way. We have had wide range of applications from right across the Borders including schools, community groups, farmers and private land owners. The community group at March Wood were granted funding to plant 33 native trees in order to help improve the woodlands biodiversity and amenity value.

March Wood is a community woodland in the Yarrow Valley sitting on west the bank of St Mary’s loch and stretching along the fringe of Bowerhope Law and located along the Southern Upland Way. The woodland is shown on one of the earliest maps of Scotland, is situated where the old road from Selkirk to Moffat once was and may be a remnant of the ancient royal hunting ground – the Ettrick Forest. March Wood consists of mainly mature trees and is currently grazed by sheep and cattle throughout the year. This grazing by livestock and browsing from the local deer population means that the woodland is not regenerating by natural means and so it is important to plant trees so that the woodland can exist for years to come. 

On a wet and windy day by the banks of St Mary’s Loch I met with the volunteers from March Wood who had all the trees (Alder, Sessile Oak and Scot’s Pine) and protection ready for the arrival of Yarrow Primary School. The volunteers headed into the wood to make the necessary preparations so that the young tree planters could get stuck straight into the action. 

Upon their arrival it was clear that the youngsters didn’t mind a little bit of rain and were enjoying the chance to learn outside of their class room and started by skimming stones across the loch.

Stone throwing competition

When we made it across to March Wood we gathered around a board that was erected in 1997. The board listed the names of children who planted trees in March Wood 18 years ago who were also from the Yarrow Primary school. The pupils recognised most of the names as adults they now knew in the valley, and when they were able to see the size of the trees that had been planted they were really impressed and were looking forward to coming back in another 18 years to visit the trees they were about to plant today.

Yarrow school students of 2015 standing beside a plaque with a list of students from 1997 who also planted trees here!

 After we had a good talk about the benefits of trees and the reasons planting trees is a good thing the young planters were given a tree each to plant at places that had been marked out across the wood.
They separated into four groups of 4 and each team worked together to plant four trees across the woodland.

Concentrating hard. Planting an Alder near the burn in March Wood

All of the groups worked very well together and shared out all of the tasks equally for each of the trees.

One of the teams and their newly planted Scots Pine!

They all did a great job of digging a hole and planting the tree and heeling in the saplings. To make sure the tree would grow big and strong      

Name writing

The children then wrote their names onto the tree stakes so that they could come back to March Wood and find their trees again!

Even the teachers had a go!

Once the trees are planted they will be protected using tree tubes and then further protected by metal cage guards, so that they will not be grazed or browsed by livestock or deer.

All in all it was a great day out and a very successful day of tree planting.

A special thank you to all the children from Yarrow Primary school for helping to plant the trees at March Wood and the team of volunteers ably coordinated by Frank Harkness we look forward to welcoming you back in 18 years to check on the progress of the trees you planted.
The Borders Tree Planting Grant is available to any organisation or individual that can suggest a planting project less than 0.25ha that will enhance the landscape and biodiversity of the Borders and make a contribution to improved public amenity. Funding of up to £1000 is available per applicant per year and the grant will be running until April 2018. For further information and to access application forms and guidance documents please visit our website; http://www.bordersforesttrust.org/borders-tree-planting-grant/.

Alternatively you can also send an email to alasdair@bordersforesttrust.org or call the Borders Forest Trust Office on 01835 830750.

The Borders Tree Planting Grant project is part funded by Forestry Commission Scotland, Woodland Trust Scotland, Scottish Borders Council and Fallago Environment Fund and is administered by both myself here at the Borders Forest Trust and my colleagues at Tweed Forum.