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During a summer outing to the settlement of Badryrie led by David Miller,whose grandparents left in 1920, and which was finally abandoned in 1933, Jess Campbell noticed a nice little wood growing beside it. The trees were ageing and there were no young saplings. Ken Butler considered that in the foreseeable future the trees would die off. Jess wondered if they could be preserved.
Thus was born the Badryrie Project.
The committee considered the matter then decided that if permission could be obtained from the landlord and the occupier the club would erect a sheep and deer-proof fence around the major part of the wood to exclude the grazers of young saplings and thereby hopefully permit regeneration. A section of the wood would not be fenced to act as a control. The project would be financed partly by the club and partly by any public or private body we could interest.
A preliminary visit to investigate the species of trees making up the wood was made by John Williams and the Chairman who brought back samples for Ken Butler to identify. The species involved are Willow, Birch and Alder. Initially it was decided to try to use the Youth Employment Scheme to erect the fence however they were fully booked until Christmas 1984, then on mature consideration it did not seem such a good idea in that if the work was not satisfactory there might not have been any restitution. So a quotation was obtained from a fencing contractor after W. A. Palmer, Esq., the landlord, and Mrs. E. Sinclair, Ballochly, the occupier, had kindly given their blessing to the project. The search for funds produced a negative response from the private organisations approached and the Men of the Trees but a positive reaction was obtained from the Nature Conservancy Council who offered 50% of the nett costs of erecting the fence. The committee had estimate a final figure of £680 so the Nature Conservancy grant was for a limit of £340 theoretically though in fact an offer of up to a limit of £350 was made. Subsequent conversations between the Chairman and the Grants Section resulted in the limit being raised to up to £400 by September 1984. The other positive reaction come from the Highlands and Islands Development Board who eventually decided to offer a Social Development Grant of up to £190. Both these grants were subject to the usual conditions attached by the respective bodies, and both had certain minor problems to overcome before the actual money was received, principally 'that payment would be made upon satisfactory completion of works against receipted original invoices'. It had to be pointed out to both organisations that in order to obtain a receipted original invoice one had to pay money and that it was to obtain this very money that we had asked for financial assistance! There were other variations on this theme - 'Further payment will be considered on receipt of vouchers for further allowable costs' - but by gentle explanation and persistence the final sum of £190.00 was received from the H.I.D.B. and £315.69 from the Nature Conservancy Council, who mentioned that this was the first application they had ever received from North of the Great Glen. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of both organisations.
The expenses of the exercise were: Materials from Allan's of Gillock £421.98 including V.A.T., Contractor's Work by D. Stuart, Knockinnon, Dunbeath £209.40 making a total of £631.38, a lower sum than the original estimate because of a favourable contractor's costs. The balance between a total cost of £631.38 and the grants received £505.59 was £125.66 which was paid by the Field Club out of our own funds.
The work of erecting the fence was completed by early October. It was then inspected by the Treasurer and Chairman on Saturday 20th October and found to be quite satisfactory. A point that had already been raised with the local Nature Conservancy officer Terry Keatinge, namely the possibility of damage to the growing points of seedlings by rabbits, became obviously a real possibility from the number of rabbit runs through the fence observed during the inspection. The possible need for wire netting to exclude the rabbits had already been discussed with Dr. Keatinge resulting in a decision to wait and see if actual damage did occur then if it did there would be the possibility of a further grant for wire netting erection.
The progress of the project will he monitored by the Field Club over the future years with reports supported by photographs hopefully of regeneration being sent to the Nature Conservancy Council and the Highland and Islands Development Board to demonstrate the practical benefit to the environment resulting from their financial assistance, and perhaps proving ourselves to be an organisation worthy of financial support In future projects.