Findhorn Bay, United Kingdom (PressExposure) May 08, 2012 -- Acclaimed wildlife cameraman and filmmaker Gordon Buchanan - well known for his work including Big Cat Diary and BBC Springwatch and Autumnwatch - will be the special guest as conservation charity Trees for Life plants its Millionth Tree in Scotland's Caledonian Forest on Sunday 20 May 2012.
The event will be held at the charity's Dundreggan Estate to the west of Loch Ness, in Glen Moriston, Inverness-shire from 10.30 am - 4 pm. Entry will be free.
Guests will be able to enjoy an exciting programme of entertainment, including performances by the Woodland Orchestra and fun activities by environmental education charity Wild Things! There will be guided walks in the forest at Dundreggan, where over 60 priority species for conservation have been identified - including several rare and endangered species - and where volunteers are carrying out forest restoration work.
With the day falling within Scottish Biodiversity Week, there will also be a special focus on biodiversity, with opportunities to see the moths and soil beasties occurring on Dundreggan.
The site boasts new visitor facilities - including way-marked trails and interpretation panels highlighting the estate's ecosystems and notable species - that were opened last year by Muriel Gray. Dundreggan is also home to an innovative wild boar project, in which a group of wild boar in a special enclosure are reducing bracken, to assist the regeneration of native trees and flowering plants in an ancient birchwood.
Gordon Buchanan will plant the Millionth Tree itself at a special ceremony at 1 pm. This will be followed by the planting of the first trees in the charity's next million - including one by Trees for Life patron and well-known Highlands naturalist, author and presenter Roy Dennis - and then a celebratory barbecue.
Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life's executive director, said: "Our Millionth Tree planting day will be a major milestone in our history, as well as a celebration of our work, and of Scotland's outstanding biodiversity and world class wild landscapes. It will be an inspiring reminder that despite the serious environmental challenges facing our world, we can make a positive difference and improve our quality of life at the same time.
"We also want to encourage support for the next stage of our work and the planting of our next million trees. It is inspiring to think that we have embarked on a 250-year project to restore Scotland's equivalent of rainforest - that's how long it will take for mature trees to return to areas where there are none today."
Trees for Life aims to restore the Caledonian Forest to an area of over 2,500 square kilometres in the Highlands west of Inverness and Loch Ness.
In the run-up to the Millionth Tree planting day, Trees for Life has organised Treelay - an innovative sponsored relay of walking and cycling in the Highlands from 5-19 May. The route begins and ends at Dundreggan, linking every western Highlands site where the award-winning charity has carried out forest restoration work over almost 25 years. Participants are asked to raise at least £100, and can sign up for one or more of 12 individual legs, which vary from 13 km to 43 km.
"We hope that Treelay will be a worthwhile prelude to the Olympic Torch relay, which begins on the same day that Treelay ends. We won't have an Olympic Torch but participants will journey with something that we think is just as exciting - a beautifully carved natural wood baton that represents our Millionth Tree," said Alan Watson Featherstone.
For details about Treelay and the Millionth Tree planting day, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01309 691292 or visit [http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/millionthtree/treelay.html].
Trees for Life's story began at an environmental conference in Findhorn in October 1986 when Alan Watson Featherstone - who at that time had no experience of conservation work, no funding and no access to land - made a commitment to delegates to launch a project to restore the Caledonian Forest.
The forest had once covered much of the Highlands, with native pinewoods encompassing 1.5 million hectares at their maximum extent, in a wild landscape of mountains, lochs and rivers. By the 1980s, centuries of deforestation - largely a result of human activity such as land clearance, wood use and farming - had taken a huge toll, with only a tiny percentage of the former forest remaining.
Practical conservation work began in June 1989, when Alan took a team of volunteers to place tree guards around Scots pine seedlings in Glen Cannich, to protect them from being eaten by deer. By 1991, Trees for Life had begun to plant a new generation of trees, some of the first to grow in the Caledonian Forest for 150 years.
Trees for Life - whose vision also includes the reintroduction of the forest's wildlife and plants, to form a fully-functioning ecosystem - has since grown into an award-winning charity, with a dedicated staff team, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters. In 2008, it bought the 10,000-acre Dundreggan Estate west of Loch Ness, one of the largest areas of land in the UK ever purchased for forest restoration.
The charity's awards include 1991 UK Conservation Project of the Year, the Millennium Marque in 2000 and Top 10 Conservation Holidays worldwide in 2009.
People can help Trees for Life to plant its next million trees by purchasing dedicated trees and groves. The charity's acclaimed volunteer Conservation Holiday weeks offer the opportunity to gain practical conservation experience in spectacular surroundings in the Highlands.