‘Living memorial’ wood to commemorate war heroes

Colonel Phil Bates in the existing woodland at the Dreghorn site. Picture: contributed
Colonel Phil Bates in the existing woodland at the Dreghorn site. Picture: contributed
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First World War heroes are to be commemorated with a “living memorial” on a military training estate.

More than 50,000 trees, including oak, birch and rowan, will be planted to create new native woodland at the MoD base in Dreghorn.

It will feature a memorial avenue of 50 wild service trees, that will break into vivid reds in autumn.

Wildflowers including poppies will be sown to provide colour while the trees grow and mature. A formal commemoration area will also be created to provide a focal point for ­remembrance.

Scotland’s First World War Centenary Wood is being created by the Woodland Trust Scotland working in partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).

The charity is appealing to the public to raise £500,000 towards the cost of the project.

It comes a year after an Evening News campaign to save the Capital’s First World War trenches on the training estate proved successful.

Carol Evans, director of the Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “Scotland’s First World War Centenary Wood will be a beautiful place for people to come and remember the heroes of the conflict.

“The area has been used by the military for more than 100 years but it is also freely open to the public to explore and enjoy. That makes it a perfect place to create this special living tribute.

“Wild service trees have been chosen for the memorial avenue specifically for their bright red autumn colours. The woodland will be a really special place to visit at any time of year but ­especially in autumn when people’s thoughts are turning to remembrance.

“We urgently need help from the public to create this living memorial, and to give thousands of people, including schoolchildren, the chance to plant a tree.”

About 40 hectares of native woodland will be created to extend existing woods on the site. The majority of the trees will be planted this autumn and next spring. Schoolchildren will be given the chance to be involved in tree-planting over the next four years.

DIO training commander Scotland Lieutenant Colonel Peter Hollins said: “We’re proud to be hosting Scotland’s First World War Centenary Wood on our estate.

“It provides a fitting memorial to the sacrifices of the past, whilst creating new woodland to help soldiers train more effectively in the future.

“Our Armed Forces continue to develop and evolve through experience gained in combat; with many innovations stemming from the First World War’s enduring impact on ­operations, equipment and welfare.”