Mull Native Woodlands Group
The CalMac Community Fund was established to make a difference to the communities in which CalMac operates, by supporting local groups to tackle local needs. The Fund aims to help people connect with services and each other, especially around the following key themes: reducing social isolation; improving health and wellbeing; addressing issues related to poverty, especially in relation to the cost-of-living crisis; and local and community transport.
Impact Story: Mull Native Woodlands Group
The Mull Native Woodlands Group was formed in 2018 to promote the growing, planting, and regeneration of native trees without the use of chemicals on the Isle of Mull.
The Group received £2,000 from CalMac to purchase additional horticultural tools and gardening products to enable more volunteers to help with the community tree nursery.
The Group is entirely volunteer-led, working with owners and managers of forests and woodlands on Mull to influence and encourage planting schemes that produce regenerated, thriving, and self-sustaining woodlands with increased biodiversity and connect people now and in the future with the woodland environment.
This project aims to produce well-provenanced native trees, grown from locally sourced seed, to help secure and develop the environment's biodiversity, which supports wildlife.
They currently hold around 5,000 seedlings which can be sold next year to help the Group become self-funding. This project benefits the health, well-being, and education of the local community and will eventually generate income and employment through wildlife tourism.
The Group grew 7,600 trees in 2022, in part as a result of the equipment which has been provided through the CalMac grant and to date, have sold 3,500 trees to Northwest Mull Community Woodland and Ardura Community Woodland and have further orders for more trees for 2023. Through advertising and its open and education days, they have sold an additional 1,000 trees.
This community project is run solely by volunteers with no previous tree-growing experience. They have taken advice from the Community Tree Nursery Collaborative and other professional tree growers, which has helped them learn and develop as a group.
The volunteers are keen to involve as many people as possible in the project and therefore organise open days and training events, which have created great interest in the community on how they grow trees and care for them until they are ready to plant out.
The open days have included hands-on experience in planting seeds and potting on young plants and providing a community social event. The Group has donated several trees to the local primary schools that are completing a tree planting scheme and has held primary school events at the community tree nursery, where the children have brought or been given seeds to plant, which the volunteers are caring for.
Another sister project they have been involved in is the 'Tree and Cake', where individuals meet with a small group to explain about a tree unique to them on Mull.
The Group plans to construct a greenhouse of plants grown from seeds collected from these trees. The nursery cares for the seeds and plants until the trees are ready.
The Group are committed to growing trees for the community and are raising funds to purchase the land they currently lease from Forest and Land Scotland to secure the site and the project's future. Once this is complete, they plan to develop the site further with housing for equipment and the construction of nursery beds and staging.
Volunteer Impact Story: Tree and Cake Project
The 'Tree & Cake Project' was an idea of one of the volunteers, and was formed because of the tree nursery project. The Group embraced and supported her ideas by providing some funding and attending and helping organise the events.
"It was the best feeling to have the 'Tree & Cake Project' and The Tree Archive back where the project germinated and has its roots, at the Community Tree Nursery in Dervaig. The nursery volunteers (a fantastic bunch) hosted their 'trees and cake' event with a beautiful and inspiring display of tiny native trees and a gorgeous, tempting spread of home-baked cakes, thousands of trees, and lots of laughter. Everyone got to look around the nursery, with little ones having a go at some repotting.
"You could buy young Rowan, Oak, Holly, and Elm, all grown from seed collected on Mull; meet and chat with the volunteers; browse the Tree Archive pop-up exhibition. It was an inspiring and heart-warming afternoon. As it always is at the nursery."