About two-thirds of the trees have now been planted, on beautiful warm sunny days. It’s going well, and we are excited to see our new woodland being created at last!
The trees are looking very healthy as they go in – native broadleaf, and caledonian scots pine – with some sycamore also forming part of the shelter belt around the perimeter. Sycamores are quick growing and we know they grow well in this area, which is important with our windblown coastal climate.
The deer fence has been in place for a few weeks, and we’re pleased how well it blends in to the colours of the field.
We’ll be giving you news about plans for Slains Kirk soon. Meanwhile seeing the woodland taking shape after so long in the planning is something to celebrate!
Many thanks again to the Rural and Island Communities Ideas into Action Fund for making this possible – and earlier the Scottish Land Fund for the purchase of the land.
Community Enterprise have set up an independent survey asking for feedback about SEAchange’s use of the big funding award from the Rural and Island Communities Ideas into Action Fund. It’s very short, and we hope you may find a few minutes to fill it in.
Community Enterprise have written: SEAchange has been undertaking a short funded programme of work that will move the community woodland and the kirk project forward. Community Enterprise has been commissioned to evaluate that funded work, part of which is to gauge community views about the project and the recent initiative. We are entirely independent and objective so please be as honest as you wish. If you have specific comments, positive or challenging, just email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. The link is below and please complete this by Wednesday 19th if possible.
Community Enterprise is a group of social enterprises that help people make good things happen. As well as development support we operate a creative branding and marketing company (www.bold.scot) and other ventures.
We have just heard that the contractor is planning to start planting trees on Thursday 20th April.
Since there have been concerns expressed by some in the community over the use of the weedkiller, Roundup, we would like to hear what you think before planting starts.
Some of you have asked for more detail on the reasons behind the decision taken by the Trustees, so we have outlined these below – and also in a fuller summary which is attached if you want to read more.
We would welcome any further comments if you would like to send them to us at <email@example.com>, if possible before the end of Monday 17th April, to let us know whether or not you support this decision with a short explanation for your reasons.
The trustees did not come to the decision to use herbicide easily. We did a lot of research trying to come up with alternative options, both manual and organic. After much time spent we had to come to the conclusion that none of them were viable for the SEAchange field. Do say if you know of one which we haven’t found yet.
When we bought this field for community use, one of the conditions of purchase was that we follow professional advice in our care of the land and the trees.
We have been advised by four different professional experts that we need to use this light application of Roundup, to give the trees the best chance to thrive.
Roundup is used in parks and playparks, close to water courses and even on food crops seven days before harvesting. It can be bought over the counter for use in gardens.
We have received £48,000 of public funding to establish a community woodland, planting 15,400 trees, and we feel we would not be exercising due diligence as trustees if we didn’t give the trees the best possible chance to survive in this very exposed and windblown site.
The contractor who will be planting the woodland uses an application of herbicide at 25% of the concentration recommended for use in public spaces, targetted around the base of each sapling, as part of his routine planting process.
We consulted widely with experts to find out whether there were other methods which we could use to keep the trees free of weeds in their first two years, but disappointingly none of these alternatives were viable in this situation.
Below is a list of some of the suggestions we explored in detail:
Mulch mats – too expensive and might blow away unless pegged down in each corner, which would use more than 61,000 pegs.
Mats can harbour voles, which then chew the bark potentially killing the tree.
Bark in woodchip can contain toxins which damage trees, and chips also “steal” nitrogen.
Woodchip, plastic or mulch-mats could blow into neighbouring fields.
Mats, woodchip and weeding were all considered to involve an unrealistic amount of work for volunteers to be able to achieve.
Manual weeding of the field would take an estimated 40 people 6 full days of work, and would need to be ongoing – more than once a year – for several years.
Mowing or strimming would not be effective as roots would remain and continue to compete with the trees. In addition the roots are stimulated to further growth by cutting. There is a risk of accidentally damaging the trees while strimming.
Carbon emissions from strimming or mowing are also a factor to take into account.
Salt or acid based herbicides degrade the soil killing plant and invertebrate life over a very long time period.
Experienced tree planters have explained that the “rounding” method if used in clay soil would bake hard forming a clay “boulder” easily killing the tree roots.
One aspect of our project is learning together how to care for the environment, with relevant lifestyle choices.
We have learnt in making this decision that choices are not simple – they involve complex issues which have to be balanced. In this process we prioritised the positive impact of a thriving woodland, which will benefit the community, bio-diversity and carbon capture.
However, we would welcome further comments and opinions that impact this decision.
SEAchange are delighted to receive £96,727 from the Rural & Island Communities Ideas into Action fund, a Scottish Government programme aimed at supporting “community groups to design and deliver innovative solutions to local challenges in rural communities across Scotland”.
This funding has been awarded to enable SEAchange to plant 18,000 trees, to produce a final plan for the refurbishment of Slains Kirk, and to get help with project management.
The woodland will improve local biodiversity as well as offsetting carbon emissions. This funding award will also enable SEAchange to fence the land which the Scottish Land Fund awarded a grant to buy for the creation of community woodland.
The funding will make it possible for SEAchange to have the expert advice needed to go on to the next stage in renovating the Slains Kirk building. The refurbishment of the former Kirk as a café will provide a new resource and focal point for the community, whilst sharing information on ways by which community members and visitors can reduce their carbon impact.
The intention is also to showcase local art and heritage, both assets of this area which has strong historical connections and a network of talented artists and musicians.
It was great to see so many at SEAchange’s open day on May 21st – thank you to all of you who came and gave us your comments, concerns and suggestions. Community Enterprise are still working on their report which will we hope bring all of these into a constructive way forward.
Meanwhile here is a link to the film which Fiona Bell has made about the open day – very many thanks to Fiona for all the work she has put into making the film:
On Saturday 5th June 2021 we celebrated planting the first trees with the p7s from Slains School and many others, young and not so young, all working together and enjoying beautiful sunshine in the Kirkland field. Click here for a link to Fiona Bell’s 3 minute video of the day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikFnuM55pFo
With graphics by Fiona Bell, and science facts from Prof Jo Smith this video is both fun and informative – illustrating what each of us can do to cut our carbon footprint to a smaller size. Cut a tonne in 21 !!
As of 31st March, SEAchange now owns the land for creating a community woodland, as well as the kirk building with a small piece of land alongside the graveyard. We’re very grateful to the Scottish Land Fund for their grant award which has made this possible.
We’re excited to be starting out on this new venture, which we believe will enrich our community in many different ways and we would like to thank all the community for input, feedback or support in helping to achieve this milestone.