One organisation we have partnered with extensively is the Borders Forest Trust, a fantastic charity with a vision to restore ‘the wild heart’ of southern Scotland. Founded in 1996, the BFT are best known for their pioneering rewilding of Carrifran valley, a process they started 20 years ago.
To see ‘then’ and ‘now’ photos from Carrifran is a powerful experience: formerly bare hillsides, covered in moor grass and bracken, are now thick with growing trees. At this time of year in particular, when broadleaf species such as birch and aspen start to turn bright yellow and gold, the valley is awash with a spectacular array of autumn colours.
Many visitors to Carrifran have commented that the valley completely changed how they view the British countryside. Where previously they delighted in grassy hills, never questioning the pastoral landscapes that dominate our uplands, now they notice the (un-natural) absence of trees: a lack of the native woodlands and scrub that once covered, and perhaps could return to, our hills and mountains. If seeing is believing, then Carrifran has helped a lot of people to believe our uplands shouldn't be so bare.
But despite this jewel of a reserve, the BFT have not rested on their laurels, quickly expanding their sphere of influence beyond Carrifran valley. They have purchased a neighbouring estate, Talla & Gameshope, and are working to restore an adjacent former hill farm, Corehead. Eventually, their efforts will create a landscape-scale network of native habitats, stretching across the rivers and mountains of some of Southern Scotland’s wildest country.
Forest Carbon has been delighted to work with BFT for several years now. In total, our partnership has enabled the Borders Forest Trust to plant close to 400,000 trees across 300 hectares. These nascent woodlands will go on to sequester more than 80,000 tonnes of carbon during their growing lifetimes, eventually linking up to provide a contiguous network of forested habitats, the scale of which will be unparalleled in the south of Scotland.