THE SCOTT WHO TREKKED CANADA FOR PLANTING TREES
After 5,000 miles on the track, the Scottish Michael Yellowlees (32) and his faithful Alaskan Husky dog Luna reached the Eastest point of North America last Sunday. They trekked across the vast country in nine months, from Pacific to Atlantic. Finally, on Sunday, 5th of December, crowds of well-wishers gathered at the remote Cape Spear Lighthouse in Newfoundland. Not an easy trek, even for a scott!
This Scott and Luna, have raised over £40,000 trekking canada from west to east for the rewilding charity Trees for Life. Its aim is to restore Caledonian Forest in Scotland. Michael told BBC why he did this challenge in Canada, “There’s forest around you for as far as the eye can see, wide open skies, and it’s a really beautiful country. It’s how I feel Scotland should look like.
“If you go to the Highlands in Scotland, you will notice a huge lack of trees. It used to be forested from coast to coast, bursting with life, full of different wildlife and species; so if we restore these forests, we’ll see these species returning.”
Indeed, Michael and Luna chose Canada for its historical links. At the beginning of the XIX century, people left the rural part of Scotland and many went to Canada. The agricultural revolution accommodated the land for intensive forms of agriculture and farming, and Scots emigrated worldwide.
Though Michael call it as ‘amazing’, he recognise it was a hard walk: “There have been all sorts of challenges throughout, such as weather events. We came through the Rocky Mountains in March facing snow,then the heat of the summer with black flies. But I think probably the hardest thing has been the mental challenge. You know, it’s a long time by yourself on the road.”
Midway through the journey, Michael was distraught when Luna vanished into the Canadian wilderness. After a week searching high and low, aided by local volunteers, the two were joyfully reunited when Luna suddenly reappeared at his side.
“Apart from that horrible scare, the journey through Canada has been amazing,” says Michael. “And so too have the people. I’ve been marched into towns by pipe bands, applauded by crowds lining the streets, and inundated with food, clothing and shelter offers.”
5,000 miles treking to rewild Scotland
Scotland is actually the nation with more loose in trees in trees within the UK, since 2000. According to Global Forest Watch, it has lost 308,000 ha of tree cover. And that given the agricultural and farming revolution had already cleared most of the land.
In 1900, only about 5% of Scotland’s land area was wooded. Large-scale afforestation had increased this figure to about 17% by the early 21st century. Nowadays, though, Scotland wants to be a ‘rewilding nation’.
Therefore, several conservation organisations, including Trees for Life, have joined strengths to recover wild spaces. They aim to restore 30% of Scotland; it includes restoring and expanding woodlands, moorlands, peatlands, rivers and marine habitats.”
In Nature each species depends on others for feeding, breeding or shelter; the failure of one species has a cascading effect on others. Moreover, according to RSPB, the UK ranks 189th out of 218 countries for biodiversity intactness. Rewilding recognises Nature’s power to heal itself and reestablish these connections.
Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life chief executive, described the duo’s achievement as impressive. He added: “We want to thank Michael for walking across Canada for the last nine months and raising so much money for our work rewilding the Highlands.
“His journey is a powerful reminder that rewilding offers hope for tackling the nature and climate emergencies while benefiting people and local communities.”