Iona Community raises £18,000 to restore Mull woodland

The Iona Community has raised £18,345 for a tree planting and education project on Mull, more than double its original funding goal.

Camas Centre Mull
The Camas Centre already has restored some of Mull's lost woodland helping to bring back wildlife and rare native lichens

The Camas Woodland project aims to plant 4,200 native trees on 1.4 hectares of land next to the Iona Community’s Camas buildings, returning forest cut down in previous decades and never replanted.

In restoring the woodlands, the project hopes to bring back Mull’s lost wildlife, ecology and extremely rare lichens only found on the west coast of Scotland.

“We are very grateful to everyone who has generously supported the project and we are excited that in exceeding our goal we will be able to bring more local children to the centre so they can learn about the environment on Mull,” says Abbi Mason, who coordinates activities at the Camas Centre.

“The new woodland at Camas will echo the success of our already established small woodland which has brought back an abundance of wildlife, bird song, habitats, shelter for the garden and fuel for the centre.”

The money, which was raised through a crowdfunding web page, will pay for fencing to protect the young trees from deer and sheep. The Woodland Trust agreed to provide the native trees, stakes and guards, if Camas could raise funds for the fence.

An off-grid outdoors experience

Run by the Iona Community, Camas is an outdoor centre that works with young people from some of the most deprived areas of Scotland. Young people who come to the centre take part in outdoor activities such as climbing, abseiling, kayaking, games and wild camping as well working in the organic garden and woodland.

“Camas offers people a chance for respite and to experience something new and potentially challenging,” Ms Mason says.

“We are an off-grid community and all our power comes from wind and solar power. The accommodation is extremely basic ‘bothy style’ with no electricity, internet or phone signal.

“A lot of people who come to Camas find this a challenge, but a week of nights spent playing games by the fire, playing in the outdoors and eating home cooked food really allows people to build relationships and memories.

“Young people who come to Camas form real relationships with themselves and each other and those relationships support them when they return home.”

Building memories

Camas was a fishing station 70 years ago when Iona Community founder Rev George MacLeod first brought young men from Glasgow youth prisons to live and work among the fishermen who used it as a base to catch wild Atlantic salmon.

The fishing stopped in 1990, but the Camas centre continued to welcome young people from cities and give them a chance to experience a different way of life and to build community through working alongside each other.

Camas also offers opportunities for volunteering and sets aside open weeks each year when the adults and families can sign up to stay at Camas and work with the community.

“Before and after the summer holidays we have different community groups and projects that come from far and wide,” says Ms Mason.

“We have regular church groups who come from USA, Germany and England. We also have open weeks for individual adults who can come and join us for work and garden weeks.

“Memories of Camas stick with people for a long time,” “Often people who came for a week 20 years ago will walk down the track happily reminiscing about their time here.”

Find out more about the Camas Centre

If you are interested in visiting Camas bookings for groups and individuals are now open for 2018. or 01681700367