More than 400 trees have been planted at Ionad Stoodie in Point in an event organised by Point Sport and Recreation Association and tied in with the AGM of Point and Sandwick Trust.
Around 30 people turned out to plant the trees on Saturday morning, an event which also heralded the start of National Tree Week and celebrated progress made so far on Point and Sandwick Trust’s Croft Woodland Project.
The trees planted at Ionad Stoodie — a mix of birch, rowan, hazel, hawthorn, holly and crab apple — will eventually provide shelter for the football pitch.
They were donated by Woodland Trust Scotland and it was fitting that Carol Evans, its director, was there to help with the planting. She was in Lewis to receive a £29,000 cheque at the Point and Sandwick Trust AGM.
The money is a half-yearly payment to Woodland Trust Scotland towards costs of the Croft Woodland Project, which aims to plant trees throughout the Outer Hebrides.
Viv Halcrow is in post for five years as Croft Woodland Project Officer, and is based at the PST offices at the Old Knock School. Her job is to give advice and practical help on tree planting and guide people through the funding application process.
So far this year, 175 people have expressed an interest in tree planting in the Outer Hebrides. While 36 have been in Point, the rest are located through all the islands, down to Barra, and Viv has made 101 site visits.
As a result, six Forestry Grant Schemes will be submitted this winter, plus seven Woodland Trust schemes. They are mainly for broadleaved, deciduous trees.
Viv said: “There’s interest from all the islands and applications going in from Lewis, Harris, North Uist and Barra this winter. But the project is running for quite a few years so hopefully we’ll get lots more in over the next few years. Overall it’s going to make a difference.”
Woodland Trust Scotland director Carol said a “massive thank you” to PST for their cheque and support in making the Croft Woodland project happen.
“If your dream comes true you will have transformed your landscape,” she said. “What a legacy to leave.”
She added: “I’m so proud that we are working with one of the most determined, resilient and tireless groups of people who have a vision of where you live and where your neighbours live and where your extended neighbours live.”
The Croft Woodland project is one of Point and Sandwick Trust’s six ‘priority revenue’ schemes, the most prominent of these being Bethesda Care Home and Hospice, which recently received £25,000 from PST. This was the first part of its £55,000-a-year pledge for the lifetime of PST’s Beinn Ghrideag wind farm.
PST chairman Angus McCormack read out a letter of thanks from Bethesda fundraiser DR Macdonald during his speech at the AGM.
He noted that it was just over a year since the turbines were handed over to PST and thanked the board members for “such positive support” over the years. He also thanked developer Calum Macdonald. “That it works is very much down to his skills and knowledge and persistence.”
Calum also spoke at the AGM, outlining the achievements of the three-turbine community wind farm and the challenges they face.
But he also said: “At the end of the first year, the figure earned was £2.4million.” After payments on bank loans, that left a profit of between £400,000 and £600,000 to be spent locally.
It also meant that enough electricity was generated to theoretically power every house in Lewis.
Calum also mentioned the success so far of the LED Energy Communities joint project between PST and Tighean Innse Gall, as 91 houses in the Point and Sandwick area have now been fitted with free LED bulbs at a cost of around £9000.
“We’re making a real difference to our community and that’s what motives us,” said Angus.