Nursery will grow back Mull’s native trees

At the site of Mull Native Woodlands Group new tree nursery are Moray Finch (MICT), Andrew Mortley, John Nicolson (TSL), Mike Shilson and Ann Evans (MNWG) Picture by Richard Clutterbuck.

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Funding has sown the seed for a new native tree nursery on Mull.

Mull Native Woodland Group was so inspired after taking part in a Kew Garden seed bank project, it decided to find a piece of land to grow its own trees from seed and replenish the island’s Atlantic rainforest.

Thanks to £23,000 funding, the project has now started on former forestry land right next to Dervaig community orchard.

Ready for the polytunnel and raised beds at Dervaig. Photograph: Richard Clutterbuck.

Last autumn the group was busy collecting tree seeds for Kew Garden’s Millennium Project, banking them for posterity.

Hawthorn, Holly, Hazel and Alder all went into the seed bank from Mull but 2019 was the project’s final year and Kew had what it needed.

‘We thought it would be a good idea if we could develop the idea for ourselves and carry it on,’ said Mr Shilson.

After a meeting with Stuart Findlay, area manager for Forest and Land Scotland, it was agreed the group could have a piece of land to grow its own native tree nursery next to the already flourishing community orchard.

And because the orchard was a former rubbish tip, the new nursery project next door ticked all the right boxes with landfill charity fund EB Scotland to secure a successful bid for £23,000.

The 0.5 hectare forestry site was covered in tree stumps and needed clearing but with the help of Mull-based TSL contractors the site is now ready and waiting for the next stage, bringing in an 80 foot by 18 foot poly tunnel and building raised beds outside.

The poly tunnel will be used for more fragile seeds like Silver Birch and Alder while the raised beds will bring on larger seeds like acorns and hazelnuts.

The grow-areas will need to be vole-proofed but the project is well on track, said Mr Shilson.

‘TSL, which also made a generous donation to the project, has de-stumped the land, put in a road and levelled the land in just a week. We just need it deer-fenced now.

‘We’re not sure if coronavirus will stop our poly tunnel being delivered. We’ll have to wait and see but the idea is to use it to grow vegetables and salad for the community until the tree seeds come in the autumn. Of course, we will make sure we are following all the government guidelines doing this,’ he added.

Mull and Iona Community Trust is joint partners with Mull Native Woodlands Group in this project.