Branching Out

There are few people I find as awe inspiring as Alan Watson Featherstone, founder of Trees for Life…

Having visited him in early 2015 and seen just a fraction of their work in Glen Affric to restore the beleaguered Caledonian Forest, I was eager to meet him again, and talk with fellow Trees for Life personnel at their flagship enterprise, Dundreggan Conservation Estate, west of Loch Ness.

At the forefront of nature conservation work since he joined the Findhorn Foundation in 1978, Alan organised a conference in 1986 called One Earth: A Call to Action, at which he made a commitment to restoring the struggling Caledonian pine forest.

Immediately after he set himself the task of learning everything he could about the forest and its inhabitants, from the tiniest microscopic insects, plants, fungi and flora, to the animals that should be there in abundance.

“I had to educate myself if I wanted something to happen, and though I had no knowledge, resources or access to land whatsoever, I had the passion and inspiration; I truly believe in the power of positive thought.”

In the past 30 years, his idea has branched out, blossomed and bore dramatic fruits. Trees for Life became an independent charity in 1993 and has since won many awards.

“We have a thriving, expanding black grouse population and recently recorded our first red squirrel here too. Dundreggan has ten species not found anywhere else in the UK including three sawflies, a mite, a fungus gnat, and the giant juniper aphid.”

Like its trees this charity never stands still. Expert surveys continue almost daily, nothing is carried out without ensuring it is in harmony with nature.

Find out more about Trees For Life here