The Land Needs Trees

Some years ago I was looking over a moorland area in Scotland where I live. I must say it was a beautiful view, in a way. Yes it was beautiful, but there was something missing. There were very few trees. I knew enough about local history to know that the whole area had once been forest. However, it had become relatively barren land which only supported small shrubs and a few sheep. Therefore, I did not have to think much about what was missing. It was simple, The Land Needs Trees…. I could feel it in my bones. But what do to do about it…

Some years later I got the idea of the Rewilding Stick. It came as an image in my mind of someone walking through the same moorland area with a stick and planting trees as they walked. It was a bit like the story, “The Man Who Planted Trees”. However, this was far easier and quicker as there was no bending over as it was seeds there were being planted not seedlings. This was far less work and much less expensive than planting seedlings, plus putting fences or plastic spirals around them to protect them.

But I thought, “Surely this would not work as the rabbits or the deer would devour the trees as they emerged”. The use of seedlings, deer fences and plastic spirals had become the common method of planting trees in the Highlands of Scotland, and in other parts of the world, but that may be about to change.

In more recent times, I noticed that small trees were emerging in the moorlands. The sheep had been taken off the marginal land because of a change in farming subsidies, and this was allowing trees to emerge. This was not all good news as some of the trees were of non-native species spreading out from commercial tree plantations. However, it represents a wonderful opportunity. Trees were emerging in the very area where I had had the feeling: The Land Needs Trees. There were no deer fences or plastic spirals in site, but there were many small trees growing happily. Now, I realized, is the time to get going with planting out those areas and bring back the native forest.

Other countries have faced similar challenges to my native Scotland. There is the same issue: The Land Needs Trees. The same principles can be applied in those countries too. When the forests were removed the animals which supported those forests were also removed, or greatly reduced in numbers. To help the forests return we also need to help the animals return. Some of what we plant needs to go to the native animals species. It is fine if some of what we plant gets consumed by local animal species. This would be untenable if planting expensive seedlings, but it is no problem with the quick and easy method of Reseeding using a Rewilding Stick.

We are intervening positively by getting seeds into the ground, especially where there are no longer enough indigenous animal species around to do the job.  The is a highly effective way of giving nature a helping hand. We are jump-starting the return of the local plants and animals. A single tree can produce thousands of seeds, but these mostly go to waste without animal species to consume or ‘plant’ them during their foraging and borrowing activities. Our intervention in that part of the Cycle of Life gives nature a hand just where it needs it: Getting seeds into the ground.

The Land Need Trees, the local animal species need trees and human beings need trees. Human beings need to plant trees, it is good for our health and well being as much as anything else.

The vision I had of someone walking through the moorlands using a stick to plant trees has come true. It is happening. Lets make this happen in more places. More barren places can have the trees they need. More animals species can recover. More forests and other landscapes can be made whole again.

The Land Needs Trees. Can you hear the call? Will you answer?

-William Martin
Founder: Global Rewilding Initiative