Junior Rangers brave the cold;

Perth and Kinross Community Greenspace Rangers enjoy working with Pitlochry High Pupils in order for them to get their Junior Ranger and John Muir Award (Conserve level) awards. The last task held in November was a challenge for everyone… in their own words…

25/11/17- Black Spout Wood- Replanting Seedlings

The S3 Junior Ranger group travelled on the minibus to Pitlochry’s Black Spout Woods on a winter day that crept in through our multiple layers of clothes with gelid fingers, so it was best to get working as quickly as possible. Our task was explained to us by Jeannie, to replant seedlings or saplings away from the adjacent archaeological site, an Iron Age building explored in 2005-2009 (the building was discovered to be approximately from 250 BC- 50 AD), to conserve the site by ensuring the site is devoid of trees in case the trees take over the ancient site.

We spilt into groups of roughly two or three to complete our task. Firstly, we would select a seedling to move, this was facilitated with small pieces of red and white plastic tape tied around some saplings and dig a square with a spade around it. This was done so that the roots of the tree remained intact. This was imperative as it ensured the tree would have the best chance with some pre-establishment when it was relocated.

We then found a small glade in the forest to plant the tree, it is best to give the tree as much sunlight space as possible. A square was then dug out, and the turf put to one side to be utilised later, which was deep enough to accommodate the tree’s roots and with a periphery of space around. The tree would be positioned and the turf would be packed in around it, upside down in order so that the tree would have a good opportunity to grow and we pushed the soil down by stamping thoroughly.

After the tree was planted we needed to fortify it against overgrazing from animals such as deer grazing on it and destroying it. We would place 2 or 4 poles (depending on the size of the seedling) as a base to wrap the chicken wire around.  In order to do this we would firstly construct a hole to hold the pole utilising a pinch-bar, we would lift the pinch-bar up and let it drop and the weight of the pinch-bar would create a hole. The hole would be made more capacious (not too large although in order to give the pole stability) by moving the pinch-bar in a circular motion in this hole. The wooden pole (chosen as it is rather cheap and conforms to the surrounding environment) would then be inserted and secured with a metal open-bottomed cylinder with handles on each side (this was very effective but cumbersome due to weight so some of us required assistance) and this had the same effect of the pinch-bar, we would lift it up and use the weight of its fall to secure the pole. We would continue doing this until the pole was sufficiently in.

After the poles were fixed in we would then wrap and secure the chicken wire around the tree. We approximated the length the chicken wire and cut them utilising a multi-functional device with a wire-cutter included. To secure the chicken wire on the poles we could either utilise a stapler or nail a large nail a third of the way in and then we would deliberately bend it over to secure it.

We then consumed our lunch in the warmth of the mini-bus and after this we finished fixing the protection.

Our next job was to plant holly bushes and hazel saplings which then could be used in later years in producing berries and nuts to help the environment as it helps to feed local wildlife such as red squirrels helping them to survive the year. These were donated by SEPA. Our method of doing this was utilising a spade to dig a small hole in the soil and securing the plant in. In order to protect the plant we would stick a small wooden pole in the soil diagonally towards the plant and use it to support a hollow plastic cylinder that was around the plant to protect it from overgrazing. We attempted to spread these plants out as much as possible and avoid grouping the same plants together so we would not be planting plantations that only support certain species.

Overall, the entire group that came really enjoyed it and are grateful to Jeannie for taking the time to do this with us.