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Here we go a-gathering…

Lovely Guest Blog from volunteer Griogair MacAllein.   The beautiful Autumnal seascape looking over the Minch from Eisg Brachaidh on the Auchiltibue road was the ideal location for a morning of ‘fruitful’ gathering of ‘DOG ROSE’ hips {Rosa canina}.   The seed will be ‘treated’ at the ‘Little Assynt Tree Nursery’ for planting next year. Watched on by basking Common Seals on the islands, a group of volunteers from the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Project and the Tree Nursery, armed with bags and buckets set about collecting the familiar red fruit perhaps best known for the bottles of ‘Rose Hip Syrup’ once familiar in family bathroom cabinets. For those of a certain age {myself included} lining up in primary school to be given a daily spoonful of ‘Rose Hip Syrup’ which contains Vitamin ‘C’ as a replacement for the lack of citrus fruit after the second world war. ‘Scurvy Grass’ was an unpleasant alternative. Children in the 50s and 60s were also sent out from classes to collect the ‘Dog Rose’ hips, and in the former decade, earned 3d per

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October Monthly Volunteer Day

Autumn seems to of come around so fast this year! A beautiful crisp day with on off showers meant we had a rainbow for most of the session! As our penultimate volunteer day this year we went for an autumnal stroll with a purpose: to collect Rose hips for the Little Assynt Tree Nursery in order to grow more. We were joined by Nick and Susan from the tree nursery to show us the best place for collecting, leaving behind enough for reproduction and wildlife. Fortunately, the walking was easy as we ended up searching along roadsides, but the real challenge was getting to the bush and then getting the hips without being spiked! We all had a great day, despite the spikes, and collected plenty for Nick and Susan to use. The next step is for the seeds to be extracted from the red, fleshy hips and sit in a cool, dark, dry place for about 18 months before planting. If planted any sooner they will simply not grow yet, they need a little time to be dormant. Thank

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Volunteering Programme 2019!

As the new year is approaching, I am excited to tell you about the new monthly volunteer programme that will launch in January 2019! The fourth Thursday of each month we will have a volunteer event running, rotating about the projects. Other volunteer events may be arranged as extras to this program. Examples of activities we may carry out include tree planting, beach cleaning, natural heritage data collection, path building and helping at the Little Assynt Tree Nursery. Levels of fitness vary between types of activities; I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have, please contact me at the email below. If you have an interest in being outside, improving your fitness, learning a new skill, looking after your local environment or would just like to meet likeminded people; why not join us? The first volunteer day will be on the 24th January 2019 with details of where released nearer to the time. Anyone is more than welcome to join for half an hour or the day! We encourage everyone to try something new and be

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Volunteers, We Need You!

Volunteer week is coming! From the 1st to the 7th June we are joining organisations across Scotland in recognising and celebrating the time and dedication of volunteers. Whether it is an hour here and there or long-term volunteers we appreciate all the help and support that people give us. Volunteers are incredibly important to organisations such as ourselves. Skills and experiences that you can share with us are just as important as what we can show you. There are 28 projects running at the moment in CALL with many opportunities are coming up throughout the year across from path building to surveying wildlife; tree planting to removal of invasive species. We are looking for more volunteers to help us carry out these plans. More information about our projects can be found here. People volunteer for several reasons: whether it is to meet new people, learn new skills, be outside or be part of the community and its natural surroundings. It can also help with future employment or give you a change to find a new career path. We encourage everyone

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Tree of the Month!

Just in case you missed our tree of the month posts from June, we would like to introduce you to the lovely Wych Elm. Last month we were out collecting seed, found inside their winged fruit before the wind whisked them away!             The once dominant English elm descended from just a few elm trees brought to the UK by the Romans. They reproduced using suckers which resulted in genetically identical populations. This made them susceptible to Dutch elm disease, causing a drastic decline in elm numbers. Our lovely native wych elm, however, is more genetically diverse. Progress of the disease has been slower in this species and it has been thought that one of the reasons may be due to the fact that wych elm does not sucker. Another may be that the bark beetle that spreads the disease may not favour the bark of wych elm or they may just not thrive in our climate! We are lucky to have a stronghold of wych elm in our isolated woodlands.        

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Rogart Research Team Visit!

Last week pupils from Rogart Primary School visited Little Assynt Tree Nursery on a research mission! They are starting their own tree nursery and were having a look at how we do things at Little Assynt. The budding horticulturists learned about all the stages in growing trees and got hands on transplanting Juniper and Scots Pine seedlings and taking Aspen cuttings. We explored Culag Wood where the pupils collected Wych Elm seed and looked at the effects of deer on trees and seedlings. They also became bees and flowers as they learned about pollination and buzzed around on white shore!

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Primary 7 Go Wild!

Since April, Primary 7 pupils from Lochinver, Stoer, Achiltibuie and Ullapool have been part of an exciting transition project ‘Discovering Wild Places’. It has given the pupils the opportunity to work together to discover, explore and conserve wild spaces, and share their experiences, fulfilling all elements of the Discover level of the John Muir Award, before they head into S1 at Ullapool High School. Pupils have experienced mountain, woodland, and freshwater environments over the last few months…. Back in the hailstones of April, pupils braved the cold to visit the base of Quinag to carry out heather monitoring in a mountain environment. © S Pease Fortunately the sun shone when they completed important tree seedling sampling in Culag Woods later in the month. Pupils learned how to take GPS coordinates and tag seedlings so the same trees can be sampled by next years’ P7s to monitor the effects of deer. © S Pease Wildflower identification and tree measurements were on the menu when pupils visited Little Assynt Estate in May. They also got hands on experience with tree seedlings at Little

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Little Assynt Tree Nursery Visitors

So far, 2016 at Little Assynt Tree Nursery has been a hive of activity. Back in February we were out with volunteers collecting Juniper seeds and Aspen root, the last to be collected before seed sowing. Volunteers have been helping out on a weekly or fortnightly basis, for an hour or two, or all day. Even some visitors to the area come for the day. All help is most gratefully received! We have had visits from preschool, primary and secondary school pupils. They have all had hands on experience of nursery jobs and tackled them all with enthusiasm! The users of the Assynt Centre have also had a visit from the nursery and sowed some Scots Pine seed for us. It will soon be time for them to visit to see how the seedlings are doing. We had our Spring open day at the beginning of April. A wet day couldn’t dampen our spirits thanks to the music provided by our fantastic local musicians, ‘Jorine and Friends’ and the stacks of home baking that were demolished. A willow bird feeder

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Work Opportunity with CALL

Little Assynt Tree Nursery Seed Collection Organiser Contract In partnership with the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Little Assynt Tree Nursery is to collect local tree seed for the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.  The Little Assynt Tree Nursery is a project of Coigach Assynt Living Landscape (CALL). The Nursery is looking to contract a Seed Collection Organiser to locate and collect ripe tree seed locally (within Seed Zone 102) and prepare the seed for despatch to the Millennium Seed Partnership.  The collection of seed is for fifteen designated species and the seed collection organiser would be contracted for 40 days paid work.  The prospective candidate will need to be able to drive, and have access to their own vehicle.  Work mileage will be reimbursed. For further details contact Boyd Alexander at 01571 844368 or email: balexander@coigach-assynt.org

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Tree of the Month!

Just in case you missed any of our Tree of the Month Facebook posts from March, we have put them all together in this blog. Each month we pick one of the native trees we grow at Little Assynt Tree Nursery and tell you a bit about them. We’re big fans of aspen here.  It is one of our most beautiful native trees and that’s why we made it the first of our “Tree of the Month” series for March. Standing tall and elegant in groups in woodland or clinging on to an exposed cliff, aspen can be found in a wide range of locations.  Wherever you find an aspen it will rarely be alone.  They spread through a network of underground roots which throw up suckers over a wide area.  Each new sucker growth has the potential to become a 25m tree stem which is genetically identical to all the others growing from the same root network.  If an old stem dies or blows over, new ones will grow up to replace it.  So although each stem may be

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