Craigengillan Aspen Arboretum and Agroforestry Trial
Much of Eadha’s aspen work has focused on Galloway where through a partnership with the Forestry Commission, Eadha was tasked to map and collect samples of all remaining aspen clones growing wild in the district for conservation and propagation. Eadha has been seeking a site to establish and showcase the full collection of Galloway clones. Eadha has a good relationship with Craigengillan Estate having supplied aspen trees to their Jubilee Woodland Project in the past. Through discussions with the estate, an area of land was identified as suitable for establishing this collection.
An exciting new project was then scoped for Craigengillan which exploits the unique characteristics of the aspen tree to serve a range of multiple purposes. Exploiting its strategic location at the gateway to Galloway and the Forest Park, the site is an ideal location to host the Galloway clone collection and to develop a unique demonstration project for aspen agroforestry. Aspen clones can vary widely in their characteristics (form, vigour, colour, timing of flushing etc). Planting the clones together at a single site offers an ideal opportunity to conduct growth trials to identify superior clones for vigour which can be preferentially propagated for productive woodland projects effectively create an arboretum. The site is and will remain organic pasture for sheep and cattle. Prior to planting the estate reseeded the site with a native grass mix.
During 2020, a total of thirty four fenced enclosures were installed by East Ayrshire Woodlands across the 7 Ha field at 24m centres. Within each enclosure, five trees of each clone from the collection were planted. The trees were protected in 1.2m tubes.
We are also planning to undertake a phase 2 project during 2021 replicating the planting again to double up the number trees.
In time the fenced enclosures will protect any sucker growth from grazing by livestock. Aspen is one of the most nutritional dense tree species hence its high palatability. When the suckers have grown to a certain size, the enclosures could be opened, allowing livestock to graze on the suckers benefiting from the supplementary nutrition.
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