Foresters canoe the great glen to save lives – with trees

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A fundraising effort by a group of intrepid foresters to canoe across Scotland in a single journey is helping to save lives in Africa – with trees.

The six-strong Forestry Commission team were inspired to take on their 95km task – from Fort Williams to Inverness - after reading about the Tree Aid charity’s effort to build a ‘Great Wall’ of trees in the sub-Saharan Sahel region.

Malcolm Wield, from the FCS Social Policy team, said;

“In Scotland we tend to take trees – and water! – for granted, but there are  parts of Africa where the presence of more trees could make the difference that will mean communities and individuals have a much better chance to thrive.

“Trees can help stop encroaching desertification, can retain water and prevent drought and moreover can provide nutritious foods, natural medicines and enterprise opportunities.

“Tree Aid has been working at this for years but it’s a monumental task so we thought we’d chip in and do our bit to help our African colleagues.

“It was a great adventure and a real accomplishment. We’ve had a fantastic amount of support so far and we’re always happy to receive donations!”

The team steered four canoes through the Great Glen over five days carrying their kit and food with them and making camp along the way.

They braved everything that Scotland could throw at them: low temps, high temps, mist, sun, rain, hail, head winds, following winds, calm water, squalls, thunder, starry moonlit nights and beautiful sunny mornings!

So far their team effort has raised over £1200 – more than twice their target amount!

Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so at

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of Forestry Commission Scotland and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  3. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba. Tha e an urra ri riaghladh agus cumail maoineachadh is comhairle ri coilltearachd ann an Alba. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta.
  4. Team members (including support crew): Kevin Lafferty; Bonnie Maggio; Bob Frost; Sally York; Chistina Tracey; Alastair Smyth; James Ogilvie; Malcolm Wield
  5. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.