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LIFESTYLE: Trees for Life by Susan Morrow of www.lynwood-jewellery.co.uk


Many cultures view wood with great reverence, and many folk stories and myths have been created about trees and the spirits that reside within them. I have always had a great admiration for trees and recognise that without them, we wouldn’t be on this planet. And so I am delighted to tell you about a great organisation, Trees for Life, which is dedicated to the wonderful tree.


There’s a story by the folklorist, Otta F. Swire, about how the Caledonian Forest in Scotland was lost. In the story, a Norse king becomes enraged with jealousy over the wonders of the Caledonian Forest, so he summons up a winged monster to burn the forest down. Fortunately, the native Picts trick the creature and kill it before all of the forest is gone.


84 | ukhandmade | Autumn 2010


Caledonia is a Roman word meaning ‘Wooded Heights’, and the Caledonian Forest used to be a thriving woodland filled with animals such as wild boars, wolves and lynx. Around 400 years ago, the forest covered 1.5 million hectares of the Scottish Highlands. Today, that forest has shrunk to a mere 17,000 hectares, mainly because of the effects of human impact and overgrazing by sheep and deer. This change to the natural habitat has also had a wide effect on biodiversity: most of the large mammals are gone and others, like the red squirrel and capercaillie (a large species of grouse), have significantly dropped in numbers.


Trees for Life is a conservation charity dedicated to restoring the Caledonian Forest to the healthy and viable habitat it once was, so that it is


able support a diverse range of plant and animal species, including some of the larger mammals that would have originally been found in the forest.


Trees for Life was founded by Alan Watson Featherstone, now its Executive Director. “At first I had no idea how to proceed. I had no experience of working with ecology or forests, no money and no access to land. But I had a passion and positive vision for the forest’s return. In 1989 I took out a group of volunteers to protect some Scots pine seedlings, by placing guards around them to stop them from being eaten by deer. We only protected a few trees that day but it was the moment when Trees for Life’s work really began,” said Alan.


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