Scotland’s First World War heroes are to be commemorated with a “living memorial” of new native woodland on an area used by the military.
Over the next four years more than 50,000 trees including oak, birch and rowan will be planted on land that has been used by army personnel for training for more than a century on the MOD training estate at Dreghorn.
Scotland’s First World War Centenary Wood is being created by the Woodland Trust Scotland working in partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).
It is one of four being planted by the charity across the UK.
The new woodland in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh will include features such as 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 new trees grow and mature. A formal commemoration area will also be created to provide a focal point for remembrance.
The charity is appealing to the public to raise £500,000 towards the cost of the project in Scotland.
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.”
Forty hectares of native woodland will be created to extend and buffer existing woods on the site.
The majority of the trees will be planted this autumn and next spring. Local schoolchildren will be given the chance to be involved in tree planting events over the next four years.
DIO SD Training Commander Scotland Lt Col 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.”
Norman Drummond, Chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel, said: “Scotland’s Centenary Wood is a fitting living memorial that will provide a lasting reminder of World War One. I am particularly delighted that young people are to be given the opportunity to be involved in creating this living memorial by planting a tree within the woodland.
“One of the key objectives of the Scottish Commemorations Panel is to raise awareness amongst this and future generations of the impact of World War One on Scotland in asking the question: ‘What do we learn from all this?’
“Creating a woodland that will have a positive effect on Scotland’s environment is a unique and lasting way to do this.”
The Woodland Trust’s Centenary Woods project will see well over three million native trees planted across the UK, representing the millions who fought in the First World War. Sainsbury’s will be partnering the Woodland Trust to deliver the project.