Woodland Trust

Wiston Lodge and Woodland Trust join together in local woodland improvement

Several groups of thirty volunteers and staff met in the snow, rain and wind to plant trees donated by the Woodland Trust Scotland.

Young People Brave the Elements to Learn New Work Skills and Protect the Environment. 

During the weeks of March 9-13th and March 16-20th 2015, several groups of thirty volunteers and staff gathered together in the snow, rain and wind to plant trees donated to Wiston Lodge by the charity, the Woodland Trust Scotland. Wiston Lodge had recently received a free tree pack containing 420 trees and shrubs from the Woodland Trust to further enhance native woodland management efforts in the area.Says Jonny Sutherland, Managing Director at Wiston Lodge, “Learning how to manage and protect the local environment is just one thing we emphasize to participants at Wiston Lodge. And we are very grateful for the Woodland Trust’s generosity with this timely donation of trees.

The tree pack from Woodland Trust contained several hundred individual native plants, including hazel, blackthorn, crab apple, dog rose and elder. Wiston Lodge staff were able to choose from a variety of tree packs with different species for specific habitat recreation needs.

Says Micah Barrett, Wiston Lodge’s Landscape Manager, “These shrubby species that we received are excellent for increasing the biodiversity of our native woodland. We need more woodland edge and hedges to provide cover and food for birds and other wildlife. Tree planting is a great way for local young people to learn about nature and to leave a positive mark on their landscape. We hope to work further with the Woodland Trust to manage native woods and help local biodiversity conservation efforts.

Folks who lent a helping hand planting the saplings included twelve young people on a rural skills course with South Lanarkshire Council’s What’s With Work
Rural Skills Programme, as well as a number of full-time Wiston Lodge volunteers from Scotland and around the world, including Germany, Ireland, Spain and the United States of America. The remaining 150 trees will be planted by a group of young adults on a residental programme focusing on helping learn skills needed to gain employment. 

Barrett says, “Wiston Lodge’s purpose is very simple and very effective.  It’s to provide a unique rural setting where people can feel safe and be supported to develop the skills they need to fulfil their potential.  We work with groups of young people from primary schools, secondary schools and high schools such as Lanark, Lesmahagow and Biggar,  We then help these kids develop personally, socially and emotionally and to help them develop work skills that they can use in everyday life.  Our work is not only fulfilling but a great deal of fun.

Some event participants expressed their delight at the tree-planting event, despite the largely inclement weather.  Skye Levari, a Wiston Lodge volunteer from Seattle, Washington said “I can’t think of a better way to spend my first week in Scotland than planting trees with my new friends in such a beautiful place. South Lanarkshire is gorgeous. I’m lucky to be here.

Skye was on her first full day of volunteering for Wiston Lodge, and her second day in Scotland having just flown across the world for a two-month stay with the charity. Asked whether the Scottish spring weather reminded her of the Pacific Northwest, she replied, “Yes, I feel right at home here! Nothing like a little rain and sleet to wash away the jet lag.

The woodland improvement efforts by Wiston Lodge were part of a larger effort this year by over 200 groups across Scotland that planted trees thanks to the free packs, which have been supplied by the Woodland Trust and supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, to enhance their neighbourhoods and enrich the local environment.

Carol Evans, Director of the Woodland Trust Scotland said: “It’s fantastic that thanks to supporters including players of People’s Postcode Lottery, hundreds of groups across Scotland can improve their local environment. Planting trees is an activity that brings the whole community together.

Wiston Lodge is furthering its environmental protection efforts later this spring with the organizing of another tree-planting event.  On March 28, participants from another residential programme will be working with Wiston Lodge staff and volunteers to plant dozens of native trees on the lodge’s grounds.  Other upcoming events at the charity include: an Easter Holiday Programme (April 7-17), a Certified Leave No Trace Trainer Training (two events, April 14-15 and April 16-17, respectively) and a Foundational Bushcraft Competency course (April 21).

Jonny Sutherland, Managing Director of Wiston Lodge says, “We are predominantly a outdoor education centre for local people. The Woodland Trust’s donation of trees enabled us to improve environmental conditions on our property for both wildlife and for people.  It was a timely donation given the kick-off of the outdoor season for us and the work that we do.  We are very excited about this upcoming season and all that we have on offer for the public.