Regeneration for a positive future. Case study 1: The Hebridean Ark project

May 19, 2018

The Hebridean Ark project is aiming to restore 100,000 trees to the Western Isles


Where did all the trees go?

Some say it was the Viking raiders that destroyed the native trees many centuries ago to stop the islanders building boats with the wood, others say it was due to peat-cutting operations over time. Perhaps it was further exasperated by local clearing for grazing and the high winds with little shelter that make it difficult for trees to survive. Either way, action is being taken to restore woodlands, focussing on local species such as the rare and beautiful Aspen. 



A day out collecting Aspen cuttings

As a volunteer for the Horshader Trust, I went out on a sunny spring Monday, to help with the project. David Mackay, the ecologist leading the project, took me on the hunt for Aspen trees (pictured above). As it's the best time of year to do so, click on this article to learn about Aspen propagation from root cuttings.


To summarise, one carefully cuts away at the root to take small cuttings, being careful not to break the lifeline between the original tree and it's massive clonal colony.


As David has been quoted, 'seeds and cuttings are being taken from surviving trees because they were hardy and adapted to conditions on the islands' (source:



A lesson for prosperity

What really inspired me was that Aspen seeds can travel for thousands of miles, across the Atlantic sea, and find themselves in a craggy cliff face on the Outer Hebrides. Then they thrive there. They rapidly start to flourish, with a massive root network to access available water and support the growing colony.


Whilst standing on the side of a sheer cliff face, seeing this tree surviving somehow, it's resilience gives me hope. Hope for nature's resilience in the face of adversity. 


Thanks if you've read this far. I'll finish this first post about my visits to ongoing sustainable regeneration projects with a quote from a book I highly recommend, "Design for resilient and regenerative cultures is about facilitating positive emergence, co-creating collaborative networks of relationships that nurture the conditions in which we (life) can meet uncertainty with creativity, adaptive capacity and a readiness to transform in response to change and disruption." (Daniel Christian Wahl, 'Designing Regenerative Cultures, Triarchy Press 2016, p98).


Here, here!  


With love,



ASH Designs x

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