The first Queen's Commonwealth Canopy in Scotland
TreeStory Project on Isle of Mull granted the first Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy accreditation in Scotland.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) is a unique network of forest conservation projects, which unites the Commonwealth family of nations to save one of the world’s most important natural habitats: forests. Established in the name of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth, this initiative is committed to raising awareness within the Commonwealth of the value of indigenous forests, and to saving them for future generations. QCC projects are required to demonstrate sustainable forest conservation practices and encourage, where possible, the participation of local people in the management of the project.
Today, we are proud to announce that one of our client’s projects on the Isle of Mull, Torosay Hills, has been granted the first Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy dedication in Scotland!
TreeStory became involved with Torosay Hills Programme on the Isle of Mull shortly after its purchase by the present owner in 2016. Before then, the estate operated as an upland hill farm and deer forest. It is now the subject of a radical and ambitious woodland and habitat restoration programme, designed to halt biodiversity loss and restore and protect the unique Atlantic (or ‘Celtic’) temperate Rainforest that once covered this part of Scotland.
The land at Torosay Hills extends to around 3,000 hectares, rising from sea level to the summit of the island’s second highest mountain. Human interaction over the centuries gradually reduced the size of this once extensive ancient forest. Today, there remains less than 1% of ancient woodland, existing in moribund fragments, in a rapid state of decline. The project was designed with the owner to provide an inspirational example to stimulate the thriving of indigenous habitats and the enrichment of biodiversity within a 150-year vision.
The first phase of work began with collecting seed from remnant trees across the project area to be grown in the nursery, and planting began in Spring 2020. Tree planting will continue in stages until 2022, aiming to restore the woodland canopy by planting approximately 650,000 native trees of local origin across the estate and will be one of the largest of its kind in the UK.
Woodland expansion has been designed around protecting and expanding the current fragments of woodland alongside seeking locations with the best mineral soils, which provide the greatest opportunities for woodland regeneration. The design consists of three large-scale deer-fenced enclosures, producing a mosaic of habitats to benefit both the existing heathland and more habitats as well as facilitating woodland regeneration.
The vision for Torosay Hills is centred around the conviction that thriving wilderness landscapes can provide catalysts for deep personal change. To that end, Torosay Hills is about much more than woodland restoration: it is about developing innovative opportunities for individuals and communities to truly connect with the landscape and the restoration process. It is a project that resonates at the heart of everything we value at TreeStory, and one which we are extremely proud of.