Anderson's Primary School pupils help Forres Friends of Woods and Fields, Forres Features and Forres Community Council plant 30 trees on Cluny Hill as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy
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LOCAL pupils planted 30 trees around Forres’ most prominent monument as part of a national re-wilding scheme.
Primary 6s from Anderson’s Primary School were invited to Nelson’s Tower to help environmental group Forres Friends of Woods and Fields (FFWF), in collaboration with company Forres Features and Forres Community Council who sourced the trees as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy project.
FFWF spokesman Mick Drury confirmed the 30 Hazel trees planted were grown at their tree nursery near the Kennel Wood above Sanquhar pond.
He explained: “We’ve grown on approximately 1500 trees over the last three years. This has involved pricking out, watering, weeding and mulching.
“We planted around 300 on our own land; sold about 200; donated 200 to local organisations including Sanquhar Dam Restoration Group and Dava Way Association; and we’re growing more for the future.
“The trees at Cluny Hill were planted after recent felling there which made some safer, to provide wildlife habitat as a lower shrub layer and open up views to the tower.
“Creating a lower shrub layer will provide good habitat for insects, birds and mammals including the resident squirrels.”
He added: “We’re keen to get children involved as they will be the stewards of the land in the future.”
Anderson’s teacher Ms Chloe Webster explained that her class is learning about weather and climate change.
She said: “We’ve highlighted the importance of trees and their ability to help reduce the effects of flooding.
“We enjoy using Cluny Hill for outdoor learning and it’s nice to help with the conservation of the woodland. The tree planting made the children feel proud. It encourages them to take care of the woods.”
Lucas Hutcheson (10) enjoys doing his bit for the environment.
He said: “Trees put more oxygen into the atmosphere. They also help with our changing climate as they drink some of the excess water.
“To plant one, first you dig a hole about the size of your spade, then you get a sapling and hold it about where the mud level was so the roots are pointing downwards. Then you fill in the hole and press it down and fill in some more then pat down again.
“Finally you press your foot all around it so it’s firm in the ground.”
Heidi Thomas (10) explained that each group in her class planted two trees.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “First you dig a deep hole then you get a sapling. One person holds it in place while the rest of you fill in the soil around it.
“Trees are home to lots of wildlife like squirrels and birds. It’s good for the environment to have more of them!”
Local businessman Graham Murdoch attended the planting, representing Forres Features and Forres Community Council.
He said: “It was great to get the kids involved - in years to come they’ll visit with their own children and point out the trees they planted!
“The work backs up the Cluny Hill management plan for years to come.
“Long ago, the woods were maintained by Forres Town Council. The paths were regularly raked so there was no muddy build-ups, piles of rotting leaves or potentially dangerous overhanging branches. Over the years since, Laurel has also spread throughout which has to be cropped.
“The volunteers at Sanquhar have done a fantastic job on the paths around the pond there. We want to do the same for Cluny Hill and restore it as a beautiful, natural place that is safe for visitors.”
Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Major General Seymour Monro, also helped with the tower tree planting.
He said: “I am delighted to see the improvements being made up on Cluny Hill from the judicious cutting of trees to the lighting up of Nelson’s Tower.
“The children have performed an important task in planting the saplings from the Queen’s Green Canopy. Children throughout Moray must have planted thousands of trees over the past couple of years!
“I hope many of them will visit Cluny Hill in the future to see how their trees are growing.’
The Queen’s Green Canopy started in 2021, administered by Woodland Trust in honour of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022.
To increase and protect the native tree cover, people were urged to create the ‘special gift’ to mark her 70 years on the throne.
Mr Drury explained that, apart from those donated by Woodland Trust, FFWF’s trees are funded through donation and volunteer efforts.
He finished: “It’s important to grow them to connect with the land, providing hope for the future.”