[Update 21st June 2019] Nearly 2,500 deciduous native trees are now growing on Lowther Hill. Big thanks to everybody who supported this project so far -- It's not finished yet, though: we're still due to complete the planting in autumn 2019 with about 500 Scots Pines. Please scroll down to the bottom of this webpage to see a few photos of the tree planting work parties.
We finally have permission to plant trees on Lowther Hill, so let's do it.
Planting trees on Lowther Hill will help to naturalise an area of mountainside that has been entirely deforested for over three centuries. A tree can absorb up to 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime, so it’s a good way for us to do our bit for the environment too.
Trees are also great for skiing. In a windswept, exposed place like the Lowther Hills, trees can provide much needed shelter from strong winds, minimising the wind chill effect and making the sport and the outdoor experience more comfortable and enjoyable. The wind break provided by the trees helps to catch the snow and the shade from the sun helps it to stay longer on the ground and extend the skiing season.
If you know your Scottish snow sports, you will have guessed by now that Lowther Hills will also boast Scotland's first forested lift-served ski slopes. If we can make this work, we may inspire other Scottish ski centres to follow our path.
We may be a wee ski centre but in many respects we have demonstrated big ideas. We built the first permanent skiing facilities on Lowther Hill and then became the first Scottish ski area to provide night skiing regularly. Thanks to your donations, we also installed the highest, off the grid webcam in Scotland.
So here we are, back to you, to ask your support on a good cause for Scottish skiing and upland regeneration:
Please help us to plant 3,000 native trees on Lowther Hill in the south of Scotland.
Next to the Southern Upland Way, alongside the ski slopes at Lowther Hill, the new trees will provide a valuable landscape improvement to an area that has been devoid of trees for centuries, and will be enjoyed by thousands of hill walkers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Lowther Hills for centuries to come.
With the advice from Woodland Trust Scotland, we will bring back to Lowther Hill the following tree mix: Downy Birch, Rowan, Aspen, Scots Pine, Grey Willow, Goat Willow, Silver Birch, Hawthorn, Alder, and Hazel.
How can you help?
1. Donate a tree
£3 will put one tree (with a protective tree guard and support) on Lowther Hill.
£9 will put three trees (with protective tree guards and support) on Lowther Hill.
£15 will put five trees (with protective tree guards and support) on Lowther Hill.
£30 will put ten trees (with protective tree guards and support) on Lowther Hill
Thank you for your support! With your help, outdoor recreation on Lowther Hill will look a bit like this in a few years:
We would like to wholeheartedly thank everybody who are making this happening through their donations: Chris Rice, Ruth O'Grady, Iain Macintyre, Julia Williams, Anjo Abelaira, Jon Shutt, Angela Ralph, Leo Capaldi, Jacqui Baggaley, Peter Goodbody, G. Strachan, H P Parke, Martin Queen, Emma Ewan, Scott Morley, Janet Moxley, Gordon Borland, Callum Gough, Alston Rankin, and one anonymous donation. Special thanks to The Conservation Volunteers for their generous donation of 1000 trees, and to the Woodland Trust for their donation of 300 metres of sheep fencing.
Thank you also for your comments of support. Here are some of them:
"The foresightful folks at Lowther Hill Ski Club" - Roger Cox, The Scotsman. See also: "The novelty of carving turns around rowans and aspens in southern Scotland should be worth the wait."
"The good folk of @LowtherHillsSki already know this" - Matt Hay, weatherman.
The tree planting project in photos
[Early 2018] Initial planting strategy and species distribution
[April 2018] First delivery of 400 trees, planted in an improvised tree nursery in Wanlockhead while we awaited for permission to start the planting on the hill.
[August 2018] Works start on the Doon Hame snowfence, which will also double as stock fence preventing sheep from entering the planting area.
[September 2018] Doon Hame snowfence / sheep fence is completed.
[Late September 2018] One of the many deliveries of trees that arrived in Wanlockhead between autumn 2018 - spring 2019. Tree species had to be sorted and tree guards and supporting canes (and trees) had to be brought to the slopes at Lowther Hill.
[October 2018] First trees (Aspens, Downy Birches and Rowans) are planted at the bottom of the slopes.
[November 2018] Tree planting work parties every weekend and most evenings during midweek.
[November 2018] Parties start working their way up the slopes as the planting at the bottom is nearly completed.
[November 2018] A mostly dry and pleasant autumn helped to make quick progress with the planting.
[December 2018] First heavy frosts and snowfalls of the season arrive just as we had planted all the stock of trees received so far.
[January 2019] The nearly 1,500 planted trees, now dormant, getting a taste of their first winter on Lowther Hill. Hundreds of tree guards can be spotted in the distance between the ski tow and the sheep fences.
[April 2019] As the snow melts away, more timber is delivered to complete the construction of the sheep fence perimeter around the lower boundaries of the tree planting area.
[April 2019] Work begins on the sheep fences around those planting areas still unfenced.
[May 2019] 1,000 more trees are delivered, with many of the saplings coming out of dormancy due to the mild winter weather at the nurseries. Planting parties are held every weekend and during mid week to get the trees in the ground as soon as possible.
[May 2019] Most of the midweek tree planting parties took place in the evening. Overall the weather was again on our side, allowing relatively quick progress with the planting.
[End of May2019] With most trees now in the ground, time to revert to fencing work and finish off the final bits of sheep fence. The whole planting area is now sheep-proofed with nearly 4km / 2.5 miles of stock fence and snowfences!
[Early June 2019] The last saplings to come out of dormancy are planted. That's now all the planting done until the arrival of Scots Pines in autumn 2019.
[June 2019] View from the bottom of Doon Hame, snowfence/sheep fence to the left and trees to the right. Up in the distance, to the left of the Radar Station, is the Engine Hut and the Throw Rig snowfence/sheep fence.
[June 2019] Some of the most vigorous trees have already started to grow out of their protective spiral tree guard, like this Downy Birch planted at 660 metres (2,165 ft) near the Lowther Hill ski slope.
[June 2019] A group of Rowans already outgrowing their protective spiral tree guard. These ones have been planted at 680 metres (2,230 ft) at the edge of the Sooth o' Scotland ski slope.