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In 2017 we planted 9,000 native broadleaf trees on the land at Lough Mardal. The idea was partly to enhance biodiversity,  create a new wildlife habitat and nature corridors across 2 separate plantations - the North Brae field of 1.5 acres and a large expanse of land near the second lake, the Acully field, 7 acres. We are also hoping that, in the longer term, the two woodlands will help us become self sufficient for firewood for the multitude of stoves that burn in all the yurts, Shepherd's Hut, Lodge and our own home. 
Marcus led all the planting with the help of some wonderful volunteers managed to do it all without using any heavy machinery - even all the extensive rhodedendron and gorse was cleared with just chainsaws and bare hands -  ensuring that all the existing grasses, sedges, wildflowers,etc as well as the mycelium network underground wasn't disturbed.. or at least was intefered with as little as possible during the plantation process. 
The two plantations contain a mix of; mostly Alder but also some Rowan, Common Birch and Oak.  The Alder is very well suited to our damp, marshy land - it thrives where other species struggle. It will improve and break up the soil and also fix nitrogen thereby improving the overall quality of the soil and soak up a lot of the water. When conditions are right the Alder will grow at a rate of aprox 1 meter per year.
Pre-existing and long established deer paths cross and intersect the plantations which is not necessarily a good thing while the trees are young as we can see that they are nibbling the tips of the young Oaks. Tree guards have had to be put on some of them to protect them until they're tall enough (over 6ft) which can take a few years. 

We should be able to start thinning the woodlands in aprox 10-15 years time from which point we will then hopefully have our own supply of firewood - as well as having some beautiful woodland walks to enjoy at Lough Mardal.

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