A community group on the Scottish island of Arran is inviting members of the public to help them plant up to 200 Arran Whitebeam saplings, significantly increasing the numbers of the critically endangered tree.
Arran Community Land Initiative (ACLI) bought 80 acres of disused farmland in Whiting Bay on the Isle of Arran in December 2014 with a grant from the Scottish Land Fund. They are now raising funds through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to deliver a range of community and conservation projects, including an effort to save the Arran Whitebeam tree. Members of the public can receive a personalised certificate, and have an Arran Whitebeam tree planted in their name, in return for a donation of £40.
Since 1869 when they were first mentioned in journals, the three species of Whitebeam tree growing on the Isle of Arran have fascinated nature conservationists and tree lovers. The tree is a mix of the Rock Whitebeam and the Rowan, and boasts pretty leaves with a soft, white underside, white blossoms in the spring, and orange berries in the autumn.
They are considered close to extinction by the World Wildlife Fund and Arran is the only place in the world where they are found growing naturally. Although they have been studied and protected sporadically by various environmental organisations, including the Nature Conservancy Council who ran a reserve around them in Glen Diomhan from 19731991, there are far fewer left than in the 1950s. Deer prefer nibbling them to almost any other native tree, and sheep have been known to die for them: the trees that are left mainly live precariously between 100 and 300 feet up on craggy steep sided rocks.
Henry Murdo of Corriegills on Arran is working with ACLI to plant the trees on the land acquired by the community group above the coastal village of Whiting Bay. He says:
“The Arran Whitebeam has been around since the ice age and is one of the rarest trees in the world, but it could die out in my lifetime.”
I’m very keen on the land being community owned that way the species can be protected.”
Murdo goes on to praise the work of ACLI in helping protect the species:
“I’m very keen on the land being community owned. That way the trees will be protected, and I’ll be part of that.”
To significantly increase species numbers and have an endangered Arran Whitebeam tree planted in your name, visit: http://igg.me/at/arranland
For more information visit: www.arranland.org