It was 2010 when the kids from Dervaig and Ulva Ferry primaries had a day planting one hundred trees donated by NWMCWC. The schools had invited pupils and parents to come to a chosen patch of bracken choked ground at West Ardhu, an initiative to create a woodland school.
This was before contractors, clear felling, haul routes and wood chip production.
A worthy idea, the children can learn how to plant a tree with their name attached and be part of the creation of a small plantation of native trees. Not able to afford fencing materials, wire and fencing was donated and posts, strainers and gate were made from rustic untreated spruce from the forest. A deer proof enclosure was erected and families came with spades to open the ground and place in the cut a tiny whip, wishing they would grow tall and strong. Each tree had a tube and stake to protect then in their early years.
The years have rolled on and those youngsters and now at university or working away or close to home, and the area surrounding this dream of a plantation is unrecognisable. The impressive machines that can fell, strip and cut to length in seconds have done their work and a desolate landscape of stumps and brash is now awaiting restocking.
Today we revisited the site and despite the neglect the young whips have out grown their protective tubes and the quicker growing species like the alders are respectable trees and own the ground they spread their roots in. There is work to be done here. The rustic posts are now rotten and broken and the wire no longer taught, is allowing deer access. Tubes and stakes need removing and the fence reinstated, the bracken cleared and a little thinning done.
There are trees planted outside the enclosure and have been grazed by sheep, as soon as any growth extended beyond the rim of the tube.
There is another small deer fenced area nearby put up professionally by the forestry for the schools to use but apart from bracken and a few soft fruit bushes it’s empty. We thought we could dig up the sheep grazed stunted trees and replant them in here. This is the perfect time for Mull Native Woodlands Group to undertake this work before the Spring equinox and the sap starts to rise.