Moray Finch and Sandy Brunton of the Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT), Claire Wightman from TreeStory and Simon Webb from the UK Forest Certification Group (UKFCG) explain the roles they and their organisations play in expanding native woodland and connecting with the local community. 

General Manager, Moray Finch's enthusiasm for the ecological restoration of Ardura and the diverse benefits the forest is delivering, is infectious. Ardura is known in Gaelic as “Doire a’ Chuilinn”, which translates as “The Grove of the Holly”, and the forest still supports a few ancient hollies and gnarled old oaks, remnants of native ancient Atlantic woodland and its associated flora (also known as temperate rainforest). Historically, holly and oak were the predominant species, but much of the woodlands were cleared in the 1960s to make way for non-native commercial plantations. Following their decision to fell the plantations and restore the woodland, Moray and his dedicated volunteers uproot self-seeded,  non-native conifers and plant locally-sourced native saplings in their place. A community ranger makes regular checks on the forest.  

FSC UK Mull 2023

To support the community’s connection with the woodland and promote opportunities for them to use it for recreation, a historic road has been cleared to create an access pathway for local people and visitors, with plans to create a walking trail in future. A compostable toilet has been built and the car park extended to improve access. The Ardura Acorns toddler group, seen in the film, collect acorns that are grown in the community nursery on Mull into oak saplings that can be planted back (enrichment planting) in selected areas where oaks are naturally regenerating. For the benefit of those a little older, the Trust has plans for a forest school and to get young people involved in monitoring the forest. 

The community purchased the woodland back in 2019 from Forest Land Enterprise. This was the first time it had been involved in woodland management, having previously focused their activities on affordable housing, community transport and the local business park. The community took the decision to restore the site back to native woodland, because despite the short-term impact on the landscape, they could see the longer-term benefits. “Everything we do has been deemed to be what the community want. We had to prove, in a way that was voted for, that the community wanted this forest to be taken into community ownership,” explains Sandy. 

FSC UK Mull 2023

TreeStory have supported the Trust for a number of years, effectively becoming managers of the forest, and developing the Biodiversity Action Plan to steer that management. Although some management and monitoring activities can be done by the community themselves, others are carried out by TreeStory or contractors. TreeStory, who offer forestry solutions combining their technical expertise with their passion for the natural environment, suggested FSC Verified Impact to demonstrate their outcomes and attract private finance. FSC has developed tools to enable forest managers to measure and verify the impact of their responsible forestry on the conservation or restoration of ecosystem services. This facilitates investment from sponsors, including businesses, financial institutions and governments, in projects that monitor, maintain and improve ecosystem services in FSC-certified forests. 

MICT and TreeStory have successfully verified impacts for the restoration of natural forest cover, conservation of natural forest characteristics and conservation of areas important for recreation and tourism. 

“TreeStory sees the FSC Verified Impact as a key part of our future natural capital offering,” says Claire. “It offers a fantastic procedure, a widely recognised and trusted brand and is rigorously audited. All of these elements help to build trust with potential natural capital investors, in a field where transparency and accountability can be difficult. We believe that investors are increasingly looking for demonstrable impacts beyond carbon units and that this trend will continue to grow. This will allow projects that focus on other ecosystems services to attract funding and kick start restoration processes.” 

FSC UK Mull 2023-09-19 (c) FSC UK




FSC Verified Impact enables organisations to financially sponsor responsible forestry projects that make a real difference in the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss, and other global challenges. If you are interested in supporting MICT, contact FSC UK at