2021 – present day
Our journey so far…
After months of planning and coordination, we finally get our access track in. It’s made using recycled stone from a ruined steading up the road, shored up by a brash hedge we construct using fallen branches from the woods.
Spring is baby animal time! We glimpse various young chicks and deer on the brae during the day, but are delighted to capture young badgers on our trail cameras, emerging from their sett for the very first time.
With the help of friends and neighbours, we first drive in stakes with recyclable tree defenders, then plant 1,800 trees across the brae. The majority of these go into the scrub, but many are positioned along the edges of the woodland and a little way within, to try and increase the diversity of native trees that grow there.
Fixing a historic drainage channel
Damage from modern pipe works nearby means an old drainage channel no long links to the natural water course, causing flooding and root weakening on the brae. We dig a 100m channel to resolve this.
Joining the EFORESTS woodlands family
EFORESTS donate 500 wild fruiting trees to us, which we hope will help increase wildlife biodiversity, and boost ongoing seed dispersal across the brae, over many years to come. EFORESTS do brilliant work using tree dedications to help combat climate change and create woodlands throughout the UK. You can find our profile on the EFOREST website here, and help to support future woodland creation by making a tree dedication of your own.
Taking soil samples
In readiness for our first big rewilding job – tree planting – we start to get to know the brae’s soil better. We check for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potash levels, and use this information to help us decide where to plant the various tree species we will have.
Hare, fur & feathers
As the badgers head underground for breeding season, we’re thrilled to capture another protected spieces on our trail cameras, this time a hare. We also get footage of the resident tawny owl, whose distinctive ‘twoo-woo’ soundtracks the dusk.
The treebog gets a roof
More donated materials – polycarbonate roof sheeting from a conservatory – get put to good use on our treebog.
We’re delighted to set up a bat survey on the brae, for North East Scotland Bat Group (NESBats) – a first in this area – capturing a variety of bat calls, and adding to the overall picture at North East Scotland Biological Records Centre (NESBReC).
Foraging is not for fools
It’s our hope that the brae’s naturally growing edibles will help to make the BRAE NEW WORLD project self-supporting as time goes on… though we’ve a lot to learn before we start munching random mushrooms!
We’re not the only ones here
We’ve seen the signs – the tracks, the hairs, the droppings – but now we have the proof. And we’re thrilled to learn the brae is home to at least three protected species in Scotland: badger, deer and pine marten.
Work starts on the treebog
Reworking a donated play house that was otherwise headed for the tip, we make a great start on our treebog – a type of dry compost toilet well suited for woodland environments.
Setting up base for the Summer
Accommodation on a budget, with no utilities or services. But this turns out to be the perfect way to get to know the brae, living and breathing the land in all its wildness.
The kit store
It rains in Scotland. A recycled shipping container means we can keep our stores and equipment dry. Not the ground though – the truck gets stuck in the mud and we end up digging it out!
A hillside in Aberdeenshire
We secure Brae of Towie. Our aim is to revive, restore, regenerate and rewild: so that we can bring the hillside (or ‘brae’) back to a state of rich biodiversity. The size of the task seems overwhelming.