For a number of years there has been a partnership between Abernethy Trust – Ardeonaig Centre and Perth and Kinross Council. Participants from Ardeonaig help the Community Greenspace Ranger to complete Forest Plan works in the Birks of Aberfeldy and with Path Groups.
For the second year running the “Gappies” who work hard behind the scenes at Ardeonaig are getting the opportunity in completing their John Muir Awards. This has also therefore involved a couple of trips to the Birks of Aberfeldy. In their own words…..
Team involvement in the John Muir Award at Abernethy Ardeonaig
The first part of the John Muir Award is to discover a wild place. Loch Tay is a large beautiful loch surrounded by an inspiring mountainous landscape with stunning trees scattered around it. In exploring it, we have canoed and kayaked on it, giving us hours of fun and entertainment. It is easy to see just how appealing the area is at first glance, as the shimmering water is virtually begging for attention. Here at Ardeonaig we have the privilege of having such a wonderful natural spectacle right outside our front door!
We went to the Birks of Aberfeldy to help Jeannie Grant for our conservation day. It is a forested area that also has beautiful waterfalls and path to walk on. Scotland’s national poet Robbie Burns wrote his poem The Birks of Aberfeldy about the birch trees here.
When people think of conservation, they tend to think about making or introducing something to the area to help it along, but we conserved the area by doing the opposite. We got rid of beech trees because they prevent other trees from growing properly. Beech trees are a massive problem at the Birks because they tend to dominate other species of plant and they multiply quicker than other trees. Jeannie gave us the tools to get rid of the beech trees that cover the paths and disrupt other trees from growing. We used tree poppers to get the trees out of the ground and used many types of saws including a bow saw and pole saw to cut down branches that are in the way of the path. The best tool to use was the tree popper because it took out the roots from under the ground so prevented more trees from growing. This could be quite hard work and a lot of the time you also needed to use a spade to help get the tree out of the ground.
One of the trees we were protecting was an oak tree sapling that had been damaged by a deer. We used some of the branches that we sawed off the beech trees to put around the little oak tree. We also helped protect a monkey puzzle tree by cutting back the trees around it to let more light in.
After quite a while of pulling out trees and cutting down branches we had cleared quite a bit, so we moved on to something different. We split into two groups and we both had to make a natural shelter out of whatever we could find. Then we learnt how to make fires in Kelly Kettles when out in the wild.
When we got back to Abernethy Ardeonaig, we took some of the baby beech trees and planted them in our grounds here. They are in the raised beds by the tool-shed, and in the future they will be planted in the hedge near where the archery range is. This is to help stop children from getting too near the maintenance zone when they are playing in the grounds.
It was a really good day and it was a great feeling of taking responsibility for our surroundings and knowing that other people and nature will benefit from our hard work.
Finally, to complete our Discovery Level Award, we prepared a presentation on what we had done, with anecdotes and photos, and presented it to the rest of the Abernethy Ardeonaig Team.
Esteban, Jakob, Katrin, Liane, Marvin, Murray & Will
Abernethy Ardeonaig Gappies 2017-18