Well, the conference was a full-on couple of days, but very interesting and a chance to promote the CALL project to a wide range of people from Britain and Europe.  I think I must have talked to each of the 200 delegates….!  As well as the usual laptop presentation and leaflets, on the CALL table we had ‘seed capsules’ to give away to people, to involve them with the project.  These were small logs of (windthrown) ash with a hole in the centre containing birch seeds from Coigach & Assynt.  The hope is that people will sow and nurture the birch and then take part in a celebratory planting event in the CALL area in 2015.  These were popular and we managed to distribute 100 of them, to MPs, MSPs and the whole range of people at the conference.  If you were one of those people, but aren’t confident about growing birch from seed, here are some instructions:

Growing birch trees from seed

These Downy Birch  (Betua pubescens) seeds were collected in Coigach and Assynt in the far north west of Scotland.  In this part of the country many forest trees such as oak, ash and Scots pine are near the northern limit of their distribution and birch is the predominant tree in the woodlands.

There are 2 species of birch tree native to the UK which thrive on poorer soils.  The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) grows in most parts of the UK preferring the drier parts.  The Downy Birch (Betula pubescens) is more suited to the moist western climate

Birch trees produce large quantities of light wind-blown seeds.  They are easy to grow at home and make good garden trees.


Fill a pot to within 2cm of the top with moist seed compost.

Scatter the seeds evenly over the surface

Sprinkle a thin layer of compost over the seeds

Water the pot and stand it on a windowsill in an unheated room

Water as necessary to prevent drying out

Seedlings should start to appear in 2 to 3 weeks

When big enough to handle, transplant seedlings into individual pots

Once established and growing merrily, they can be stood outside in a sheltered spot

Plant out in the autumn*

For more information please e-mail:  nclooney@coigach-assynt.org

Planting celebration

In 2015 there will be a planting celebration where you will be welcome to visit the Coigach – Assynt area on a given date and plant the young trees you’ve nurtured, back in their home territory.  Please keep an eye on the website for details of this event.


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Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape

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