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Borders Tree Planting Grant

Borders Forest Trust, in partnership with Tweed Forum, is implementing the new Borders Tree Planting Grant. Trees are an extremely important feature of the Borders landscape.

The Borders Tree Planting Grant can offer financial assistance (up to £1,000) to plant individual trees or small clumps of trees, in order to retain this landscape resource for the benefit of people, communities and wildlife.

This grant is for trees and woodlands that fall below those eligible within the Scottish Rural Development Programme.  Click here to learn more, including how to apply.


New Blog for BFT

Have you visited our new Borders Forest Trust blog yet?

Its well worth a look as through the blog we share stories about the events and projects going on all the time at BFT.

Topics range from  'working together for woodsia to   'wildwood by night' or survival skills at Corehead

The address is



We'd love to know what you think!


Junior Rangers starts at Corehead

The first Junior rangers session was held on January 10th at Corehead Farm and Beef Tub.

Junior rangers is for people aged 11 to 18 and offers the opportunity for young people to get outside, learn lots of practical conservation skills, spot wildlife, try out their bush craft/wild camping skills, make friends and have fun.

At the first session we were greated with some pretty wild weather, with snow, hail, wind and (occasional!) sun. So we took the opportunity to get to know each other, play some games, plan some of the activities we'll be doing through out the year and familiarise ourself with the tools we'll be using.

We have teamed up with the National Trust for Scotland to run this project. There are still some places available, please email corehead@bordersforesttrust.org for more info.


MP praises 'visionary' Corehead project

Borders Forest Trust was pleased to welcome David Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, to Corehead for a recent tree planting event.

The MP was keen to find out more about the work of the Trust first-hand having heard of its achievement in planting almost a quarter of a million native trees at the site, near Moffat, with considerable help from local volunteers.

Mr Mundell was impressed with the vision the Trust has for Corehead Farm as a community-focused project, restoring native woodland, wetland and heathland to the existing farmland.

He commented: "The site serves as a great example across the whole of the South of Scotland of the importance of preserving natural habitats, and the importance of local people being involved and invested in that process.

I would strongly recommend a visit to Corehead Farm to local residents. We are very lucky to have a visionary project like this happening on our doorstep."

Click here for more information on visiting Corehead Farm, and click here to support the project.


A tree-mendous day out to mark end of planting season

BFT is to hold a special event at Corehead Farm to mark the end of tree planting season.


On Saturday 5 April, all are welcome to visit the site from 10am-3pm to help with tree planting and to enjoy family-friendly activities including den building, bug hunts and pond dipping.


BFT will also welcome its new scarecrows, created by pupils from Moffat Academy for a competition to be held on Friday 4 April.


The scarecrows will help to protect freshly-sown seed in the wild bird cover crop so it can grow and provide food and shelter for birdlife in the winter months.


Tree planting takes place over the winter months as that is when the trees are dormant and easier to move without causing damage to the young trees.


The planting on Saturday will focus on a riverside area and the new broadleaved trees will help to stabilise the bank sides as well as providing a valuable habitat for wildlife.


Parking is limited at the site so a mini-bus will take visitors to Corehead Farm from the Ram Monument in Moffat at 9.45am and 12.50pm. Booking is essential. To book, or for more information, contact anna@bordersforesttrust.org Bring sturdy footwear, waterproofs, and a packed lunch.


This event is part of the Natural Connections project funded by Scottish Natural Heritage.


Borders Forest Trust purchases Talla & Gameshope

We are delighted to announce that BFT has secured possession of 1,832 hectares (4,527 acres) of the Talla and Gameshope estate, in the heart of the Scottish Borders. This new site is larger than all of our existing sites put together, and our first major site within the Borders.  With the support of the previous owner, who was committed to seeing the land pass into conservation management, BFT is now the steward of the wild heart of the Southern Uplands.

The area purchased includes the stunning valley of the Gameshope burn. The site is particularly special because it offers a rare opportunity to restore a large area of hills and valleys to their natural state providing habitats extensive enough to be truly sustainable in contrast to isolated areas of conservation found elsewhere. At its southern end the property borders both the Carrifran Wildwood, which also belongs to Borders Forest Trust, and the National Trust for Scotland’s Grey Mare’s Tail.

BFT will gradually and sympathetically work to restore this important site by encouraging the return of habitats that have been lost over many hundreds of years.

The purchase took place to a tight deadline and BFT is very grateful to the generous individuals and Trusts who made success possible. A first important step now will be to carry out biological surveys on the land so that future changes can be mapped.


Community to benefit from new funding for Corehead

Borders Forest Trust's project at Corehead, near Moffat, has been awarded three years of funding from Scottish Natural Heritage, enabling us to offer a range of events, educational opportunities, volunteering and training activities to even more people at the site.

The Natural Connections project will include a conservation volunteer programme with over 16 sessions per year. This will comprise practical conservation work such as tree planting as well as surveying and monitoring of wildlife at Corehead. We are looking for interested volunteers to participate in the project, including wildlife watchers and photographers. The volunteers will help us to determine the populations of wetland and forest birds, butterflies and small mammals, as well as monitor the development of heather moorland, wildflower meadows and newly planted trees.

The next Tree TLC volunteering sessions are on 2 November and 7 December from 10am to 4pm. Transport from Moffat will be provided.

BFT is also coordinating environmental education activities for local schools and colleges. The Rural Skills Group from Moffat Academy will use the site to develop new skills such as drystane dyking, tree and hedge planting and tree surveying, which contribute towards SVQ qualifications. Other environmental education activities and guided visits are available to schools. These will enable young people to learn about the wildlife of the Moffat Hills and how the work at Corehead will help to improve biodiversity through habitat creation and management, whilst retaining the traditional land use of hill farming.

Other events to enable visitors from the region and beyond to explore Corehead, located in the Moffat Hills Regional Scenic Area, include Hunt the River Fly and Botany in the Beef Tub. These will be held each year of the project. Event details will be listed on the events section of our website.

The Moffat Hills Regional Scenic Area centres on the Southern Uplands of Hart Fell, with their characteristic rounded hills dissected by steep clefts and patterned with a mosaic of rough grassland, heather, scree, and montane vegetation on the high summits. The area earned its designation for the distinctive character of its landscape, including the cavernous Devil's Beef Tub, a hollow in the hills where the notorious Border Reivers once hid their stolen cattle, and Hart Fell itself, one of the highest peaks in Dumfriesshire, with a connection to Arthurian legend. Both features are predominantly located at Corehead.

BFT's Natural Connections activities this year are part of the Year of Natural Scotland, a celebration of the country's biodiversity, wildlife and natural landscapes. It aims to encourage people to discover Scotland’s natural heritage, to explore opportunities for conservation, to encourage young people to enjoy the outdoors, and for income generation to ensure the long term sustainability of Scotland's natural assets.

We recently reached a major milestone in the Corehead project having planted almost a quarter of a million new native trees there with the help of our volunteers. These include rowan, a favourite for Scotland's National Tree, which is currently being voted on by the public. The planting milestone earned the charity a congratulatory Motion in Parliament lodged last month by the SNP's Joan McAlpine.

For more information on opportunities to get involved, contact Corehead Site Manager Phil Roe on 07713566295 or email phil@bordersforesttrust.org.


And the winners were...

Borders Forest Trust is delighted to announce the winners of this year's Scottish Conker Championships on Saturday 19 October.

Junior: Thomas Richardson

Youth: Heide Laidlaw

Adult: Neil Davidson

Rogue: Ady Hurrell

Well done everyone!


A call out for conkers ahead of annual Championships

Borders Forest Trust is looking for helpers in gathering for this year's Scottish Conker Championships on Saturday 19 October.

Last year the official competition had to be called off due to a lack of conkers on local trees, so BFT is asking for everyone's help in advance of the 7th annual Championships in finding enough for the competition to take place.

Contributors should deliver their conkers to the BFT offices in Ancrum, where the team is squirrelling them away ready for the event, taking place on Tweed Green, Peebles, as part of the Tweed Valley Forest Festival.

To compete for a Champion title, register between 11am and 12pm on the day in one of three categories: Junior (7 - 11 years), Youth (12 - 18 years) and Adult (over 18 years) and you will be provided with a pre-laced conker, all ready for the games to commence.

A bonkers 'Rogue' round will follow, open to everyone with their own conker. Conkers can be treated in whatever way competitors like to make them indestructible, whether pickled, varnished or baked.

The Tweed Valley Forest Festival is an annual celebration of local forest culture. This year it takes place alongside Peebles Food Festival, from 18-27 October.

The traditional game of conkers is played with Horse Chestnuts, the fruit of the Horse Chestnut tree. They can be found on the ground under the branches, in prickly green cases. Break these open carefully to find the shiny brown conker inside.


Free advisory service launched for farmers

Farmers in the Scottish Borders will benefit from a new project launched by Borders Forest Trust in association with the Woodland Trust. BFT will provide farmers throughout the region with free advice on establishing new native woodland on their farms. BFT Woodland Habitats Project Manager, Nicola Hunt, highlights that even small areas of native woodland can be a real asset to agricultural land. "Woodland of any size is a valuable resource for farmers. It can provide shelter for stock, help to stabilise soils, particularly on bank sides, reduce nutrient run-off, improve water quality and reduce the impact of flooding."According to BFT, other benefits include increasing wildlife and biodiversity, providing visual screening, enhancing the landscape, 'locking up' carbon dioxide to offset emissions, and providing a future source of wood fuel. Native broadleaved trees of the Borders include rowan, hazel, hawthorn and a variety of willow species. These are often suited to wetter areas or steep gulleys and can be a productive way of using this otherwise low value agricultural ground. Farmers interested in planting new woodland should contact Tim Frost, Woodland Habitats Site Manager, on 01835 830750 or by email tim@bordersforesttrust.org.


230,000 native trees now planted at Corehead Farm

BFT and its volunteers have planted the final oak tree of the 195ha new native woodland planting scheme at Corehead Farm, north of Moffat.

Over the last three years more than 230,000 native broadleaved trees have been planted at Corehead with species including oak, ash, aspen, juniper, rowan, alder, willow, birch and cherry.

This new native woodland will provide a range of benefits both locally and globally.  As the small trees develop into woodland, they will support a rich diversity of native plants, birds and animals.

Also, as the plantings follow three of the headwater burns of the River Annan, they will help maintain the river with more stable banks and less erosion and sedimentary run-off.

On a global scale, as they grow the trees will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate the impacts of increasing greenhouse gases and climate change.

The completion of this planting marks a significant milestone in BFT's work at Corehead Farm.

Next, the focus shall be turned towards the restoration of other habitats such as wildflower meadows, wetlands and heather moorland as well as more wildlife surveying and the installation of low key visitor facilities.

Walkers are encouraged to visit the farm and hopefully will appreciate seeing the changes to the habitats there with more wildlife returning as the new habitats begin to flourish.

Events and activities are held at Corehead Farm through the year.  The next  is Botany in the Beef Tub on 20 and 21 July, a botanical course for beginners to find out more about the flora that flourishes on the site. See our events listings opposite for more information.


Midlem Open Gardens supporting BFT this Sunday

See 15 traditional cottage gardens in full bloom this Sunday 23 June from 2-5pm in the village of Midlem, near Melrose.

Borders Forest Trust is one of three charities that the event will support.

Also enjoy tea and home-baked cake, and take home some plants from the stalls to prettify your garden too

Admission £3, or free for under 16s. For entry and more information, visit the stall outside the village hall on arrival.


Nature of Scotland Awards

Borders Forest Trust is happy to
support the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards.

The Nature of Scotland Awards
recognize and reward those who are making a real difference to the conservation
of Scotland’s natural heritage. The 2013 awards opened for entries on the 14th
November 2012.

If you feel you work with, or know of, an organisation, group or individual who has participated in activity that
has aided Scottish nature conservation, the RSPB would like to hear from you.

There are eight categories to choose from and it is free to enter.

Deadline for submission 15th March 2013.
For more information on how to enter, please visit www.rspb.org.uk/natureofscotland


Ash Dieback, Local Context

Ash Dieback (Chalara fraxinea)

By now almost everyone in the UK will be aware of this emerging threat to our native ash trees. Like us, you are probably very concerned about the impact this disease
may have in our native woodlands.

There are many reasons why our local woodland culture will be much diminished if ash is significantly harmed.  For example:

In a typical native woodland in Southern Scotland, ash will make up from around 10 to 30% of the trees;

As a native species ash has high biodiversity value, including providing vital nesting holes for owls and bats, and having
symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi which are important for overall woodland health;

Our Veteran and Heritage trees include many fine examples of ash which are centuries old;

Ash is very popular for locally crafted furniture and used in basketry.

Sadly, a mature tree in Berwickshire has now been confirmed with the disease, making it more likely that other sites will be identified in
the future.  This is the first Scottish site where a mature tree has been identified with ash dieback, meaning that it
is not confined to nursery-raised saplings which were imported from outside the UK.  While this is disheartening news,
BFT continues to believe that our approach of focusing on a mix of species from locally gathered seeds and locally-reared saplings offers the best chance of producing
genetically diverse and ecologically healthy woodlands.

In the face of this threat, Borders Forest Trust urges you to find out about the symptoms of Ash dieback by studying the Forestry
Commission information available at this link: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara

This link also contains information on how to report any suspected cases of the disease and the up to date information on movement
restrictions of ash trees and seeds.  The disease is known to spread in the summer months, so over the winter the
Government will be further developing an approach to try and prevent Ash dieback from spreading more widely into our woodlands.

Borders Forest Trust will update information on our website whenever we know of practical steps that can be taken by our members and
supporters to care for our native ash trees.


Unofficial Conker Championships Going Ahead

BFT is pleased to report some good news from the Tweed Valley Forest Festival. Conkers have been sourced from England and some volunteers will be running an Unofficial Scottish Conker Championships on Saturday 20th October.  This will not be a BFT event, but we are delighted that conkers will be played as part of the Tweed Valley Forest Festival.




Conker Championships Cancelled

Borders Forest Trust is sorry to announce that the 6th Scottish Conker Championships have been cancelled. The event was due to take place on Saturday 20th October in Peebles, but a lack of conkers has left the organisers with no choice but to cancel.  Despite many efforts to locate a source of suitable conkers in time to prepare for the event, this past summer’s weather has meant that too few are available.

“The first five Scottish Conker Championships were a real success, so we are saddened that the event won’t be happening this year” said BFT’s Communications Officer Louisa Finch. “Many horse chestnut trees are bare this year or only have very small conkers which wouldn’t have fared well in competition. We’d like to apologise for any disappointment caused and hope that the Championships will be back next year.”

Although the cancellation of the competition is bound to cause disappointment, there are lots of other activities happening in Peebles this weekend as part of the Tweed Valley Forest Festival (www.forest-festival.com). The Wood Market offers the chance to buy a wide range of unique Scottish wood products direct from the makers while nearby on Tweed Green visitors will be able to see chainsaw artists in action creating wonderful animals. Also on the Green you can try your hand at making a wooden spoon, bat box or make a witches broom for Halloween. There will be plenty of children's activities and entertainment including the magical Woodland Puppets and music will be provided by Nomad Beat with drum workshops in the yurt.

For more information about the Tweed Valley Forest Festival please visit www.forest-festival.com or contact the Tweed Valley Festival Organiser Chris Sawers 07801 308991


2012 BFT Feedback Questionnaire Launched

We're keen to receive feedback from our members, supporters and partners so if you have a few minutes to spare to tell us what you like about BFT and areas where we could improve, please complete our online questionnaire: 


We'd really appreciate your help in order to develop our future work. Thank you!


New Trustees for BFT

Two new Trustees were elected at the 2012 BFT AGM on the 19th July and we're pleased to welcome Steve Sloan and Martin Tilstone on board. Mike Baker and Jim Knight were re-elected having already served one term and two Trustees, Rose Clarkson and John Hunt, resigned having served two terms. BFT would like to thank Rose and John for all of their hard work over the last six years.


New Director for BFT

Borders Forest Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Director, Jane Rosegrant, who will take up her post on 12th June.
Jane lives at Walkerburn near Innerleithen and is currently Regional Director with Voluntary Service Overseas responsible for various countries in the Far East and has also worked abroad for VSO.  Before that she was Programme Manager with the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland and Senior Programmes Director for Just World Partners, an NGO supporting sustainable development abroad.  Earlier in her career she was Director of the Centre for Human Ecology in Edinburgh.  She has a PhD on Rural Resettlement in Ireland.


1000 copies of the Carrifran Wildwood Story sold!

The 1000th copy of the Carrifran Wildwood Story has been sold - a fantastic measure of the book and the project's success. Written by Myrtle and Philip Ashmole with members of the Wildwood group and a foreword by Professor Aubrey Manning OBE, the book celebrates ten years of the the Carrifran Wildwood project and has received rave reviews. Supported by Scottish Natural Heritage and available to buy online via the BFT shop or by calling the office.


New Site Manager at Corehead Farm

BFT is pleased to announce that Phil Roe has started work as Corehead Farm Site Manager. Phil has recently worked as a ranger for Bury Council and as a woodland creation champion for the Woodland Trust. As well as his work on UK soil, Phil has  worked on rural projects in India and says he is looking forward to “the challenge of the multidisciplinary management role that applies the principles of ecological restoration to native woodland and connects it to the wider landscape through habitat conservation and community involvement.” He can be contacted by email via phil@bordersforesttrust.org


BFT appearing on Landward

BFT was interviewed by Dougie Vipond recently for BBC Scotland's Landward programme as part of a feature on the sustainable use of hardwood timber. Our next door neighbours, Real Wood Studios, were the focus of the feature which was broadcast on BBC2 Scotland on Friday 21st October at 7pm. The programme is repeated on Weds 26th Oct at 2pm and is available on the BBC iPlayer until Thursday 27th Oct.


Tree Hugging Week raises over £1000!

On 19th September the BFT team was at Morebattle Primary School for the launch of Tree Hugging Week. We've been overwhelmed by the support from the local community and several hundred tree huggers were out in force at woodlands across the Borders. The idea came from our Office Manager Sarah as part of our 15th Anniversary fundraising appeal to hold the first-ever Borders Tree Hugging Week, from 19th to 25th September. For full details please visit the Tree Hugging Week page in the Support Us section of the website. Our thanks to TreeSurv Woodland Management for supporting this year's event. UPDATE: Over £1000 has now been raised by tree huggers - thanks to everyone who's taken part.


BFT Candles on sale now!

We're really pleased to have received our first batch of hand-made BFT candles, available to buy in the online Shop. We've named them "Woodland Dawn" because of the mix of spruce, pine, fern and berry scents and because they made us think of a morning walk in the woods. They're made for us by a local company, Borders Aromatics, who are based in Greenlaw. Coming soon - Heather & Honey! All profits go towards our work planting and protecting woodlands for people and wildlife.


BFT signs up to JustTextGiving

Borders Forest Trust has signed up to JustTextGiving by Vodaphone, a new service which allows people to make donations to charity by text. It's easy to do and all donations are very much appreciated!

Text BFTR10

£2 / £5 / £10 etc to 70070

eg BFTR10 £5

Your support helps us to keep on protecting woodlands and other natural habitats for people and wildlife.



More good reviews for The Carrifran Wildwood Story

The Carrifran Wildwood Story by Myrtle and Philip Ashmole and members of the Wildwood Group is continuing to receive rave reviews. Recent write-ups include:

"What is doubly inspirational is the huge voluntary effort that has gone into all aspects of the project and which is so faithfully recorded in this book. It is a wonderful read for any one with an interest in wild Scotland."

Nigel Hawkins. John Muir Trust Journal.  Spring 2011

"It is well worth while reading the Carrifran Wildwood Story – it has helped me to understand better how a relatively small group of people, without any obvious power except for their own determination, have achieved far more in ten years in terms of rewilding than many other areas of land in so-called conservation ownerhip."

Nick Kemp. Wild Land News Spring 2011

The book is available to buy for £15 & £5 P&P via the BFT online shop (Support Us) or by post (form available on the Publications page).