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West Dunbartonshire has some fine woodland, both indigenous and planted. The grounds of Overtoun House estate are a great place to enjoy extensive grounds with mature woodland, but smaller areas can be found across West Dunbartonshire.

Centuries of timber felling for building and ship construction and the inevitable and perpetual search for fuel have led to the demise of large tracts of woodland around every urban area. Rural areas too have had similar pressures on woodland with the added one of clearance for agriculture. 

We are usually more aware of the Amazon forest depletion than our local situation. A vastly different scenario in terms of scale, but a similar one in terms of the types of pressure. 

Much of our environment across Scotland is green; covered in trees planted for profit. These may have benefits in some ways; negative aspects in others.

As the Woodland Trust says : 

Young and industrious, a plantation can be for profit, a new haven for wildlife and a way to lock up carbon. Many of our native ancient woods were sacrificed for timber plantations during and after the World Wars, so now we’re on a mission to restore them.

The reinstatement of indigenous woodland species of tree is beneficial in many ways, not least being the support of wildlife who depend on it. Planted forests, plantations, can be comparatively stagnant in terms of options for wildlife. Only a few species feel really at home in it. 

The Millennium Forest for Scotland project was an initiative created by the Millennium Commission and funded by the National Lottery of the United Kingdom to celebrate the turn of the New Millennium.

Conceived in 1994, the project's ambition was to restore and maintain a significant amount of the forestry in the Scottish environment, and secondly to reestablish the link between local communities and the environment that surrounded them.

The project's nationwide appeal led to many local communities, farms and established natural projects (such as the National Trust for Scotland and the World Wildlife Fund) investing time and money in restoring and maintaining many areas of natural importance throughout Scotland. [Wiki]

Spurred on by such initiatives nationally, other local initiatives have been set in motion by such bodies as the Woodland Trust, West Dunbartonshire Council and the Leamy Foundation. While not all that large in overall land coverage, the figures for trees planted or planned are very impressive. 

Murroch Glen is an impressive place to visit, albeit difficult to walk around. Its natural mature trees have been added to with indigenous species in recent years. Another successful woodland is Bonhill Quarry off Ladyton or O'Hare Drive. The interlinking planted woodland provides and wildlife corridor between them so increasing the range of habitat for several species.

The Leamy Foundation is a community led Mental Health Organization established in response to our residents need for accessible support in times of need due to challenges associated with loneliness, or anxiety/depression. It sees gardens and gardens as a great way to achieve calmness and purpose and on a grander scale promotes the planting of trees. In this it has set a very ambitious target of Planting 10,000 trees over the next five years throughout our communities in West Dunbartonshire. 

its motivations for this make interesting and inspiring reading. 

Social Benefits : Social benefits of trees go beyond enjoying their beauty. Humans feel a calming effect from being near trees. The serenity we feel can significantly reduce stress, fatigue, and even decrease recovery time from surgery and illness. Green spaces can also help lower the level of crime within urban environments

Communal Benefits : With proper selection and maintenance, even trees on private property can provide benefits to the community. Trees provide privacy, accentuate views, reduce noise and glare, and even enhance architecture. Natural elements and wildlife are brought to the urban environment which increases the quality of life for residents within the community.

 In 2021, West Dunbartonshire Council affirmed its commitment to an ambitious project in conjunction with the Glasgow City Region to plant around 18 million trees  in the next decade. The plan is part of the new Clyde Climate Forest initiative from Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network to greatly increase forestation within urban and peri-urban areas. This is also seen as a positive effort to tackle climate change. The aim is to plant ten trees for every man, woman and child increasing woodland cover across the region from 17% to 20%.

In West Dunbartonshire, the project was kick-started with 600 trees planted along the southern edge of Faifley Knowes providing additional wildlife habitat and screening from the A810. Further planting will take place over the course of the next year.

Ancient woodland in Murroch Glen with the Murroch Burn below. Accessible from Broomhill Crescent. Note that although the approach is reasonably easy, some paths are precipitous.

DEMOCRAT ONLINE : https://democratonline.net/2021/06/02/politics-west-dunbartonshire-joins-clyde-climate-forest-pledge/#:~:text=In%20West%20Dunbartonshire%2C%20the%20project%20has%20kick-started%20with,place%20over%20the%20course%20of%20the%20next%20year.

LEAMY FOUNDATION : https://www.theleamyfoundation.com/right-tree-right-place.html

NET ZERO - Woodlands of the Vale of Leven : https://www.thenetzeroheroes.co.uk/pappert-wood-bonhill-quarry.html

WIKIPEDIA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Forest_for_Scotland

WOODLAND TRUST : https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/habitats/plantations/

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