Once a bare scrub of hillside, Dundreggan’s Allt Ruadh is now a 400-acre regenerating woodland thanks to the support of our donors and volunteers who helped plant more than a quarter of a million trees here between 2016 and 2018.
The presence of young trees has transformed the look and feel of the landscape, with the vertical trees making it feel like you're moving through the land rather than walking across it. Downy birch and alder soar above our heads, groups of Scots pine begin to fill out, and planted junipers form an understorey for the future. The willow warblers will soon return, finding an extensive new habitat at Allt Ruadh. Their distinctive mellow whistling song will be heard again on the slopes of Carnis Dubh for the first time in perhaps several centuries.
We continue to enhance the resilience of this thriving new woodland. Some trees have been experimentally treated with mycorrhizal inoculant – the stuff of the ‘wood-wide web’. Produced by mushroom enthusiast Jake Whitson and his company Chaos Fungorum, the inoculant consists of samples of fungi found locally at Dundreggan, combined with a charcoal carrier mix. By applying this to the root area of planted trees, we are hopeful that fungal connections will form between tree roots.
Allt Ruadh has also been our first foray into the world of accredited carbon trading. New native woodlands not only bring the benefits of flood prevention, erosion control and biodiversity but can be economically viable, with a third of our income from carbon sales going to two local community groups in Glenmoriston. We closely assess the credibility of those who buy our carbon and ensure they are taking action to reduce their emissions to as close to zero as possible. Hopefully, the market in carbon will encourage more Scottish landowners to take native woodland expansion seriously.
The new woodland at Allt Ruadh is at the very beginning of its journey of change. We now aim to let nature take its course, with new trees symbolising hope for a better and more sustainable future for all.
Thank you to the Scottish Forestry Grant Scheme and all our individual Trees for Life supporters who have made our planting Allt Ruadh possible.