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Family-owned estate plants 400,000 trees with help of local children as part of Cairngorms' transformation

By Rachel Smart

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Over 400,000 trees have now been planted in the Cairngorms National Park.
Over 400,000 trees have now been planted in the Cairngorms National Park.

Over 400,000 trees have now been planted in the Cairngorms National Park as part of an ambitious transformation project spearheaded by Calthorpe Estates.

The Birmingham-based estate started planting a new forest in 2023, supported by Scottish Forestry, on its estate near Grantown-on-Spey. This land has been owned by the Calthorpe family since the 1960s.

At over 4,600 acres it is one of the largest projects of its kind in the UK and the peatland restoration, habitat creation and new native woodland afforestation of the land on Muckrach Estate has been spurred on with the help of primary school children.

The local children from Grantown Primary School and Abernethy Primary School helped to plant Scots pine and birch trees on a day arranged by the Royal Highland Education Trust and land agent Savills. As part of the outing, the children also learned about biodiversity and tree identification.

At 400,000 trees, a major milestone has now been passed in the project, helping to capture carbon, improve air quality and promote biodiversity in the area. Over the next two months, work will continue to ramp up with 70,000 trees being planted each week to create a new forest in the Cairngorms National Park. This will eventually comprise just short of one million trees in total.

Calthorpe Estates’ chief executive Haydn Cooper said: “It was a privilege to spend time with local children planting trees in this spectacular environment. We are honoured to be part of this landscape-scale generational planting project where 400,000 out of almost 1 million new trees have now been planted, with the remainder due in the ground over the next three months.

“The new forest incorporates areas of restored peatland and natural regeneration opportunities, and is protected from deer damage by a newly completed 27km fence. As the forest matures, it will become a haven for nature while also capturing huge volumes of carbon for generations to come.”

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