Tales from the forest

Inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests

Tales from the forest

Welcome to the Forestry Commission Scotland blog. Here you'll find inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests.


A brief history of Christmas trees

Picking out and decorating your very own tree is one of the highlights of the festive season. Deciding the colour of tinsel to wrap around the tree and whether to top it with a star or a fairy can cause hours of family fun and even feuds.

The tradition of having a decorated tree in your home hasn’t always been around. While evergreen fir trees have been used to celebrate winter festivals for thousands of years, the Christmas tree in its current guise has only been popular in the UK since the nineteenth century.

close up of decorated christmas tree

Read on to find out the history of the Christmas tree, from warding off winter spirits to royal recommendations.

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Best in show

We love trees here at Forestry Commission Scotland. We know you guys love trees too. So to celebrate National Tree Week we’ve put together a list of some of the most impressive trees out there.

While several species can be found on Scottish shores, you may have to venture further to see others. And some you may want to avoid altogether.

Best for instagramming - rainbow eucalyptus

rainbox eucalyptus tree

Latin name: Eucalyptus deglupta

Trees showcase some of the most impressive colours in nature. But when we talk about colourful trees, it’s usually the leaves we’re referring to. Behold the stunning rainbow eucalyptus, whose bark is a mix of vibrant colours.

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Diary of a woodland survivalist

This year we've decided to do something a bit different for All Hallows' Eve. We've put together our very own Halloween Special for you, full of thrills and chills.

cabin in the woods
(c)Eva Kedves

It's a little different from our usual blog posts, and not for the fainthearted. It's a treat for the eyes and ears, perfect for everyone looking for a scare this October 31st.

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Awesome autumn leaves: colour chemistry explained

Autumn: we can stop complaining about the heat, but still enjoy the outdoors without a hundred layers. Conkers litter paths, pumpkin-spiced everything returns, and you can step back in to your favourite pair of boots. But we all know the best bit is when the leaves give spring flowers a run for their money.

autumn colours faskally 

We all love the season's spectacular hues. But why do green leaves turn to red or orange, and how do the trees know when summer is over? We break down the science for you below.

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A tail of two squirrels

Spotting a red squirrel is a treat – something you don’t get to do very often. But it hasn’t always been this way. These little red acrobats used to roam across all of Britain and were a much more common sight. Now, when we see a squirrel in central or southern Scotland it’s usually a grey, the red’s larger American cousin.

red and grey squirrels info in boxing style image

Red squirrels have always had a bit of a tough time. After arriving from mainland Europe at the end of the last ice age, populations have fluctuated wildly over the years. Reported as extinct in many parts of Scotland due to large-scale deforestation in the 18th century, numbers had risen again by the early 1900’s thanks to widespread conifer planting and introduction of squirrels from England.

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Foraging: eat your way closer to nature

We can’t all be the next Masterchef or future Mary Berry, but there’s plenty of food in the forest that anyone can whip up into a tasty treat! From mushrooms to berries, you can find all sorts of fresh and organic edibles growing all across Scotland.

Foraging involves directly picking plants found outdoors, such as in woodlands, rather than buying them from a shop. Different foods are ready to eat depending on what season it is, but there’s usually something delicious to pick, no matter what month it is. Here are some of our favourite foods to forage throughout the year.

varieties of mushrooms with names
(c) GallowayWildFoods.com

Please note: image for illustration purposes only – seek an appropriate source of information to refer to

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Into the wild

There’s nothing better than waking up in the woods. You get to explore the forest any time of day, and see the different wildlife that comes out from dawn till dusk. There’s no bin lorries to wake you up at 6am, no traffic jams to stress you out, and no loud neighbours keeping you up at night. It’s just peace and quiet, and nature. We’ve put together our rough guide to getting out and enjoying a night under the stars.

family camping in forest with dog in foreground

Where to stay

First up, you need to pick your location. Think about what sort of surroundings you want to be in, and what sort of facilities you need. Head to Kilvrecht Campsite in Tay Forest Park to take in some of the most picturesque parts of Highland Perthshire. Alternatively, head to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and stay the night at Sallochy Campsite – its lochside location is hard to beat. Camping in the Forest has three forest campsites in two National Parks and VisitScotland has a great list of sites around the country to choose from.

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The life aquatic

When you visit the forest you know what to expect: trees, spectacular views, woodland wildlife. But how about leaping salmon? Or dolphins? Or even a minke whale? Not what you’d expect from your typical woodland wander. It’s National Marine Week, and there’s no better time to celebrate the flippery creatures that live in our rivers and seas.

dolphin leaping out the water

A he-roe-ic life

First up, salmon. Young salmon live in freshwater rivers and pools until they’re between two and four years old. Then, they leave home and go out into the world (aka the North Atlantic). When they’ve reached adulthood, they then return to spawn, swimming upstream via a seemingly endless number of waterfalls to the exact stretch of river where they hatched.

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10 summer activities for kids that won't break the bank

Summer is here, and that means sun (maybe), vast quantities of ice cream, and a lot of time to keep the kids entertained. We’ve put together some of our favourite things to do with your little ones that’ll get them out the house and exploring Scotland’s forests.

1. Live the wild life

otter in amongst sea weed

Ever wanted to get up close to Scotland’s largest mammal? The Red Deer Range in Galloway Forest Park runs regular events throughout summer to let you see these magnificent animals in real life. If marine life is more up your street, you can see leaping salmon at Rogie Falls, and maybe even porpoise and otters out west at Fishnish!

 

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