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RSPB Scotland Abernethy celebrates tree nursery opening

Donors and local schoolchildren attend event to mark important part of forest expansion project

RSPB Scotland marked an important stage in its visionary forest expansion project at Abernethy with the opening of a native tree nursery on the reserve. Children from Abernethy Primary School officially opened the nursery by sowing the first tree seeds. Guests were treated to a reception at Forest Lodge as part of the official opening ceremony and were able to visit the forest edge to see where the regeneration and enrichment planting is taking place.

Along with donations from the public, several supporter organisations and trusts of the project have helped make the tree nursery possible: ScottishPower Foundation; Laing O’Rourke on behalf of Scottish Water; Cairngorms National Park Authority; Awards For All – Scotland; Speyside Wildlife, Scot Mountain Holidays; Walkers of Aberlour; and Abernethy Conservation and Fundraising Group. RSPB Scotland was delighted to be joined by many of them at the event, and thanked all the contributors for their support.

RSPB Scotland Abernethy celebrates tree nursery opening

Desmond Dugan, from RSPB Scotland, said: “The opening of our tree nursery at RSPB Scotland Abernethy is an integral part of our forest expansion project. Abernethy is a special place for some of our most iconic species in Scotland and the project will ensure that it remains this way for years to come.

“We’re really pleased to officially open the nursery with some help from the children from Abernethy Primary School as it’s them, and the generations to come, who will see the long term results of the forest expansion; they will be its future custodians. The support from the trusts and organisations, many of whom joined us for this event, is incredibly important to the project and is allowing us to undertake the important regeneration and expansion work in the forest.”

Abernethy Forest is rich in wildlife including red squirrels, capercaillie, crested tits, and Scottish crossbills, along with many rare mosses, fungi and plants, and has the largest single remnant of Caledonian pinewood left in the UK. It’s also home to the famous Loch Garten ospreys – when ospreys returned to breed in the UK in the 1950s it was the ancient Caledonian pinewood forest at Abernethy where they chose to make their home.

However, many of the original tree species in the Caledonian forest are currently found at very low numbers, far below what they once would have been. Through this ambitious project RSPB Scotland plans to regenerate and expand the ancient Caledonian forest by around 3000 hectares to its natural altitude limit, almost doubling its size over the next 200 years. Fragmented woodland surrounding the existing forest will be connected and enriched, allowing more space for nature to flourish.

Over the next ten years almost 100,000 trees will be planted at the reserve with the help of local school children, volunteers and contractors. Trees such as alder, aspen, birch and willow will be grown at the nursery and transplanted into the reserve to help create a richer habitat for wildlife.

The expansion project began in 2012 and along with donations from the public the support from trusts and organisations has been crucial in ensuring Abernethy Forest is a special place for wildlife and people for generations to come.

Ann Loughrey, Trustee and Executive Officer, ScottishPower Foundation, said: “RSPB Scotland is one of the country’s longest running and best-loved charities. Thanks to funding from the ScottishPower Foundation it has been able to invest significantly in the forest expansion project at Abernethy, enhancing the local environment and bringing lasting benefits to the area.

“The ScottishPower Foundation is committed to supporting programmes that promote the advancement of environmental protection and make a positive impact in the community. RSPB Scotland Abernethy is doing a range of great work to help Scotland’s environment and we are delighted to support this extremely worthwhile project.”

RSPB Scotland Abernethy celebrates tree nursery opening

Aileen Fox from Abernethy Conservation and Fundraising Group said: "Abernethy Conservation and Fundraising Group is a team of local people who support the aims of the forest restoration project through fundraising and practical conservation.  We are proud to have made a contribution to this great project and look forward to continuing our support for RSPB Scotland Abernethy and their vision for the future woodland."

For further information, please contact: Jess Barrett, Media & Communications Officer, on 01313174192