Giving nature a helping hand
Damage to the natural environment is a concern for everyone, so it's great to share news of HARP's latest involvement in the 'Trees for Life' charity volunteering project.
The project, based in the spectacular setting of Glen Moriston in the Scottish Highlands, aims to restore areas of the ancient Caledonian Forest, where gaps have appeared over time in the landscape through various examples of both natural and man-made environmental damage.
In early April, a group of HARP residents undertook a week of conservation work and education alongside members of the Trees for Life team, planting saplings and learning about the importance of the forest's delicate ecosystems, plant and flower species and wildlife habitats.
HARP's involvement in the project began back in 2009, when the first group of residents visited the Dundreggan estate - the flagship project near Loch Lomond - just a year after Trees for Life had purchased the 10,000 acre expanse of wild land.
Since then, we've returned each year, with service users and staff alike quick to praise the far-reaching benefits of the project.
One service user commented: "My expectation of a week away from Southend in the remote destination of the Highlands was one where I would have the opportunity to reflect on my life without distraction and to make plans to re-build my future. The week exceeded my expectations in every respect, and I couldn't have dreamt of the beauty or tranquility of the surroundings, nor how beneficial it would be in my recovery. The week will forever stay in my memory, as will the experiences I shared with new-found friends".
Support Worker, Nathan Dodds says: "Some of the group had been living on the streets just twelve months ago. They've all taken what they learned, not only about themselves but the nature around them too, back to their lives at home. Giving something back to nature has been invaluable in their recovery, and everyone found a new level of motivation and feels the trip was a real turning point in their lives. We thank the staff at Trees for Life for a wonderful stay and we hope to be back next year".
HARP's engagement with the project is a wonderful example of charities collaborating with one another for mutual benefit, and also illustrates the power of effecting positive change in the lives of those on their journey back from homelessness.
About the Project
The Trees for Life project uses three methods to enable restoration of the forest:
- facilitatating natural regeneration of native trees by fencing deer out of areas on the periphery of existing remnants of forest. This allows seedlings to grow naturally to maturity, without being over-grazed. This is the simplest and best method of regeneration, as it involves the minimum of intervention and allows nature to do most of the work.
- planting native trees in barren areas where the forest has disappeared and natural regeneration doesn't occur. Seeds are collected from the nearest surviving trees to maintain the local genetic variation in the forest.
- removing non-native trees, which in some areas have been planted as a commercial crop amongst the old trees of the forest remnants, preventing regeneration.
For more information, visit www.treesforlife.org.uk