Forres Academy Field Trip Report

Forty nine pupils from the Forres Academy National 5 Biology classes travelled to Findhorn on June 22nd to carry out practical sampling techniques as part of their Unit course work – Life on Earth. This trip was supported by the Findhorn Hinterland Trust whose volunteers helped to run the various activities.

Gathering by the Hub

Pupils carried out 4 different activities that used techniques that they had learned about in school. These included quadrat sampling, measuring abiotic factors and recording the species found in pitfall traps.

Pupils from Forres Academy looking at a pitfall trap during their Biodiversity Survey day at the Findhorn Hinterland

Quadrat sampling was used to estimate overall lichen abundance on an area of dune health as well as looking at the number of Hypogynmia species. At the pitfall stations pupils identified and compared the different species found in the traps in both grassland and woodland. When measuring abiotic factors, a transect was used to investigate how temperature and light intensity changed along a transect from open grassland to birch woodland and how it affected the types of species found.  Pupils were also given the opportunity to look at lichens in more detail after listening to a very informative talk by Heather Paul, a local amateur lichenologist. They were informed about the importance of lichens as indicator species of pollution levels and the scientific importance of the Findhorn dunes habitat for lichen species as well as other nationally important species.

Learning about Lichens outdoors from Heather

A great day was had by all. Particular thanks go to the volunteers from the Hinterland Trust -Jonathan Caddy, George and Heather Paul, Alan Watson Featherstone and Martin Harker as well as the transport department of the Findhorn Foundation and Trees for Life. Thanks also to the school staff – Jacky Barrere, Alana MacDonald and Alastair Walker as well as S6 pupil Issac Swanson. The pupils did themselves proud, working hard through the day to gather data that they will use as a practice for their assignments.

Jonathan Caddy speaking to pupils from Forres Academy on their Biodiversity Survey day at the Findhorn Hinterland

Some quotes from pupils included: –

‘I really enjoyed the time out of school and the experience.   I would love to do this again.’

‘It was a fun day out and I enjoyed learning about the world around us!’

Jacky Barrere

Forres Academy Biology Teacher

Pupils from Forres Academy at the end of their Biodiversity Survey day at the Findhorn Hinterland

In the Marquee


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Chair’s Round Up – Summer 2023

It seems a long way off now but thank you for all those that crowded into the James Milne Institute in Findhorn Village for our AGM.  It was a wonderful celebration of our achievements showing how we have been maturing as an organisation whose work is appreciated by many.  Special thanks goes to the team that helped set up the evening and to Timothy Finnigan, chair of the Findhorn Dunes Trust, for making the effort to attend.  This helps maintain the important links between the two organisations.  It was particularly lovely to have a little celebratory social afterwards outside by the piers and the bay on a sunny summer’s evening.

230627 Draft Findhorn Plan (1)

Change is definitely in the air here in the Park Ecovillage Findhorn. The Findhorn Foundation is on a course to close operations by the 1st October and Duneland Ltd, which has been developing the Whins site over the last 26 years, is looking to finish its work and disband as a company by next year.  One of the questions being asked is: how will these huge changes affect the Findhorn Hinterland Trust?  As chair of the Trust I have been very much involved in the discussions around change.  Particularly in the Collaboration Circle, a gathering of leaders of stakeholder organisations that has met in various forms every second month at the Park over the last five years.  Also as part of the Development Committee (DevCom) a group that was set up more than two years ago to meet weekly and look at the physical development of the ecovillage.  What has become clear is that the FHT is seen as a highly regarded, well set up and organised charity with a great track record that does excellent work on the wild land surrounding the ecovillage.  As such it has been approached both by the Findhorn Foundation and Duneland Ltd with regards to the possibility of the FHT taking on ownership of the land that they presently possess.  The discussions are at an early stage but this is an exciting new development that could open up unseen possibilities – watch this space and let’s see how this all develops!

Forres Academy Biology Field Trip

As for other plans there is a Dune Restoration project that the FHT is looking to work on this winter with Sean Reed a local ecologist who has been employed to take a lead in helping us deliver this important piece of work. This is a clear and responsible  step the trust is making towards ensuring the biodiversity of our rare dune habitats are conserved as well as enhanced and will involve various ways over the coming months of explaining to others in the local area what we intend to do and why we have chosen to embark on this significant intervention.

On the ground there have been a number of educational activities happening this quarter including the very successful Forres Academy Biology field trip event in June involving almost 50 pupils which we have now established as an annual event.  Another was experienced educator Roy Simpson delivering the first of his Sharing Nature with Children day workshops (see articles on both elsewhere).  I attended the latter as I had had this training back in the 70’s and found that it had given me such useful tools to awaken awareness of the natural world in such a fun way for children and adults alike.  It will be put on again on the 16th of September and I would recommend it to anyone be they parent, teacher or simply someone wishing to gain greater awareness of their environment.  Disappointingly other educational offerings such as Alan and Heather’s biodiversity day and Kajedo’s weeklong retreat did not run as they did not book although Kajedo did run a modified Sacred Ways workshop back in June we trust that the repeat scheduled for the 23rd September will be a success. 

Roy and the Sharing Nature workshop

With regards to further  exploring the land’s biodiversity front, Alan Watson Featherstone arranged a visit by Joe Botting, a specialist in true bugs, to carry out a survey on the land in parallel with work being done in Forres for the Forres Friends charity which allowed us to share the expense.  Alan will no doubt report on this in the next newsletter.  In the meantime there was a group of four lepidopterists from the south of England who carried out moth surveys in both Wilkies Wood and the dunes in early August with some interesting finds that you can read about elsewhere.

Chris Wilkinson (r) and collaegue with moth trap, Findhorn Hinterland

As Kajedo mentions in his article, the camping pads and green burial space have been well used for celebrations and events over the summer which included this year’s Mid- Summer happening complete with fire, food, four piece ceilidh band and Scottish country dancing in the big marquee.  A huge thank you to everyone who helped put this together.

Mid Summer Celebration Band

One disappointing piece of news is to do with our FHT Apiary: our bees have been having a hard time which started in May with the loss of a couple of hives due to cold weather and although we were able to produce many artificial swarms to help increase the number of hives, many of the new queens did not make it and all but two hives have very little honey in them.  This is so surprising for this time of the year and will mean that there will be only a small harvest for humans, some hives will need to be united to have a chance of surviving the winter and all will no doubt need some feeding to help them through to next spring.  Let’s hope for a better season for bees next year.

There have been one or two enquiries about long term committed volunteers that may be eligible to use our elegant Shepherds Hut and Bell Tent with wood stove but no one has firmly taken up the offer yet.  We are still looking for the right people – please spread the word. 

There are no doubt other important happenings that I have missed but I think that is enough for just now and leaves me to wish you a pleasant rest of the summer and a glorious autumn as the earth cools and the light dims.  May you enjoy and take sustenance from the special land that surrounds us.


Jonathan Caddy

FHT Chair

15th August 2023   

AGM Refreshments and social

AGM refreshments and social

Posted in News

Dune Restoration Project

The Findhorn Hinterland Trust, in its role as a local conservation organisation that promotes conscious land management and environmental education on the Findhorn peninsula, is in the early stages of looking at how it can further maintain and develop the biodiversity of plants and animals on the land it manages.

Species rich grassland Scottish Biodiversity List scaled

Maintaining and protecting biodiversity in our world is of international importance and concern and the strategy is to make sure that what happens on the ground in every locality of the earth helps with this mammoth task.  To that end FHT commissioned a 2020 Local Biodiversity Action Plan that highlighted what habitats and species are particularly rare and important to conserve on the land it manages and from that it was clear that the dune habitat is of prime importance.  How can we maintain and enhance this diversity? 

Common blue

To this end the trust is  looking to engage Sean Reed, a local ecologist in some dune restoration work in the near future and the following is an outline he has written of what is planned and the rationale behind this.  He introduced our land management group to the Dynamic Dunescapes publication which has helped inform our thinking and which some readers may find interesting and informative.  As Sean mentions, more information and planned consultation are to follow.

Jonathan Caddy

FHT Chair   

A very special place

Findhorn dunes are of high biodiversity interest, home to rare plants and animals which can easily be overlooked.  The dunes are recognised to be of national importance for lichens and are the most important site for a moth which is found at only one other place in Scotland.  Dune heath (heather) and dry grassland habitats are particularly valuable to rare insects.  

Dune heath

Under threat

Natural sand dune landscapes are now rarely seen in Europe.  They have been lost through the establishment of forestry plantations, housing and industrial developments, caravan parks and golf courses.  

Dune heath, sand

Over-stabilisation, through increasing vegetation cover, is a major threat to UK dunes.  At Findhorn, dynamic open sand dune habitats, dependent on a plentiful supply of mobile sand, are being lost to gorse and tree encroachment.  While this landscape may look wild and natural, it is actually the result of reduced wind speed, caused by the historic construction of houses and planting of woodland. This wind-sheltering effect has allowed gorse to spread, further restricting the natural flow of the wind.  Pine trees, from seeds blown from adjoining plantation woodland, add to the problem, so that without action much of the special wildlife interest of the area will soon disappear.

Dune heath, shingle. Scottish Biodiversity List

Our responsibility

The Findhorn Hinterland Trust manages thirty-five hectares of the Findhorn dunes, including ten hectares of woodland.  Most of the dune heath is now covered by gorse.  Rare sand and shingle habitats, the ‘jewels in the crown’ of Hinterland’s biodiversity, are dependent on regular hand clearance of scrub for their continued existence.  

Sand dune habitats, and many of the species that depend upon them for survival, are included on the Scottish Biodiversity List.  These are the highest priorities for conservation action, helping to deliver on international targets for cooperative biodiversity recovery.  We have a duty to respond to the biodiversity crisis on the land which we care for.  

Dark Green Fritillary, knapweed

Vision to action

Our vision is of a healthier mix of sand dune habitats, a re-invigorated ecosystem which is more self-sustaining.   We are planning to open-up carefully selected areas of gorse to the dynamic natural process of wind-blown sand, using best practice techniques in sand dune restoration.  This involves using machinery to create new areas of bare sand and to transform dense gorse stands into dune heath and species-rich grassland, which are of much greater biodiversity value than gorse scrub.  The Project is seeking to raise funding to pay for hire of machinery and project management, recognising the sensitivity of the area and the value which the local community and visitors place upon it.

Small heath. Scottish Biodiversity List

Without community and public understanding of the need for this work, it may appear to some to be destructive.  A programme of public consultation and information will be a key part of the Project.

Sean Reed

Professional Ecologist 

Posted in News

Moth Trapping at Findhorn

9-10 August 2023
Participants: Chris Wilkinson, Mark Edgeller, Nigel Jones, Robert Kelsh

Chris Wilkinson with team member

We are a group of keen amateur lepidopterists from across the South of England.  For many years we have been keen to visit the Strathspey area of Scotland during late summer to try to see some of the very special moths that can be found there at that time of year. So from the 5th to 12th August we packed our trapping gear and headed north to our digs close to Grantown on Spey.

Angle-striped Sallow

The area consists of a rich mosaic of upland habitats supporting many species such as Cousin German or Northern Dart that can only be found in the local area,  and those such as the Manchester Treble-bar that are limited to northern upland locations. Special moths we were keen to see included the Dark-bordered Beauty, which is known from Loch Insh and a single site in Yorkshire. For this species we took part in a survey run by the RSPB to monitor the population and extent of their range on the RSPB Loch Insh reserve. We also ran surveys at RSPB Abernethy and on Cairngorm Mountain where many species restricted to the upland moors were recorded.

Archers Dart

While we were in the area we were also very keen to visit dune habitat on the Moray Firth to seek some of the species that are found in this unique habitat. We were absolutely delighted when our request to run a survey was granted by the Findhorn Trust and the date of 9th August was tentatively agreed. 

Barred Red

A particular target in the dunes was a declining and difficult-to-see species, the Portland Moth. This species is now only found from Lancashire northwards and requires extensive dunes in good condition. It is a beautiful shade of green with black, white and rufous cross markings but notoriously difficult to trap. Predictably this was one of those critters that eluded us! We did, however, record a much rarer mini beast. Caryocolum blandelloides was described as new to science as recently as 1981 and was discovered as a UK species at Coul Links in August 1994. Its UK range is limited to dune systems in the western Moray Firth so we were aware that we had a chance of seeing this diminutive rarity. We weren’t disappointed and were delighted to find 4 had been attracted to our light traps.

Coast Dart

There were plenty of other sand dune specialities recorded including good numbers of Archer’s Darts and Coast Darts and other northern moths such as Pretty Pinion, Lempke’s Gold Spot and Gold Spangle. In all, 397 moths of 63 species were recorded.

Gold Spangle

We also placed 2 traps in the Findhorn Community Woodland in order to see if the excellent conservation work was paying dividends with the moth fauna. A different range of species were recorded which would be expected in this habitat. The pine feeding Barred Red were present in good numbers as were the Birch feeding Lesser Swallow Prominent. Another scarce Birch species with a northern range, the Angle-striped Sallow, was also recorded. In all, we recorded a respectable 185 moths of 41 species in the woodland which would indicate a good range of laval foodplants present in the area.

Golden Argent micro-moth (Argyresthia goedarteller birch (Betula pendula), Findhorn Hinterland

Much as we enjoy the pursuit of rare moths in beautiful places, there is a serious aspect to our trapping.  All of our records are passed to the relevant county authority and are entered onto the National Moth Recording Scheme database which is run by the conservation charity, Butterfly Conservation. The data we gather contributes to the knowledge of moth populations, their ranges and changes over time.  It is an example of citizen science contributing to an awareness of biodiversity on a national scale which would otherwise be unknown.

I would like to add that it was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to visit such a beautiful corner of this little island and contribute in our own little way to the knowledge of what lives there.

Lesser swallow prominent moth (Pheosia gnoma), Findhorn Hinterland

Chris Wilkinson.

18th August 2023

Juniper pug moth (Eupithecia pusillata), Findhorn Hinterland



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Meet the Team – Martin Harker

Martin lives locally with his wife Elizabeth near Brodie and has been involved with the work of the FHT for at least the last six years both as part of the Land Management subgroup and as a key player as one of the three main managers of the FHT apiary.  In June of this year he stepped down from his role as a very efficient and effective Secretary of the Land Management group to spend more time with his wife.  Although he will carry on with the bees which he is passionate about, we thought it would be the perfect time to find out more about this quiet, knowledgeable man who has contributed so much to the work of the trust over the past few years as part of the team. 

Honey Harvest

What inspired your love of Nature?

My father worked in the Forestry Commission based initially in Cambridge and the surrounding countryside so through him and his work there was always a connection to the outdoors. My mother also had an influence as she thought it might be enjoyable to work for the National Trust -this stuck at the back of my mind.  Another influence on my thinking was the reading of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring at school and this led me to getting involved in the school’s natural history society which included an annual meeting of the different societies in the Natural History Museum in London.  At one of these a student gave a presentation on liverworts and talking to him afterwards he said one of the good things about studying liverworts was that most people do not know much about them and you soon become an expert.  That sounded good to me and as we had moved to Cornwall by then and were surrounded by lichen’s I decided to study them resulting in two years later it being me lecturing in the Natural History Museum on these beautiful living things.  I have continued to develop this joy of seeing and appreciating the small things on the land – their tiny detail, colour, structure and form.  This micro world totally fascinates me – the small, beautiful and detailed living forms that are such an integral part of nature and that I see now captured so magnificently in for example Alan Watson Featherstone’s photography.  This love of nature led me to choose to pursue a university degree in Land Management.

What sort of work were you involved in during your working life?

I worked as a land manager for a number of small estates coordinating all the different professions – lawyers, accountants, insurers, those dealing with the finance, farm consultants, foresters, farmers, the workforce on the estate, the building department, gamekeepers, gardeners…  Helping all these to work together was a pleasant but sometimes challenging task.  I was also responsible for the housing of over 200 families so there was a great sense of responsibility and obligation to get the balance between humanity and commerciality right.  In addition, I was involved with over 50 farm businesses including a national company wishing to set up a green burial operation which was I guess how I heard about the Findhorn Hinterland Trust when we finally moved up to Moray.

Bee Work Party

Tell us more about why you decided to get involved in the work of the trust and how you have been able to contribute.

Judith Berry, who was part of the FHT green burial team at the time, showed us around and talked to my wife and I about the green burial site.  I had been retired for a couple of years and was looking for some way of using my land management skills when I had a conversation with you as Chair of the trust.  At the time you were needing some extra support on the administration side of things and were seeing the need to have a small group to progress more discussion around the important land management aspect of the trust’s work rather than simply left to decisions made by yourself or Kajedo as the Land Manager.  It was back in 2017 and with my help we set up the FHT Land Management subgroup to help  with coordination and implementation by bringing some structure to the land management through regular meetings with good record keeping as part of the organisation growing up.  It was great that we could bring in other people like Alan and George and later Draeyk with such a diverse range of abilities, interests and speciality skills – everyone bringing something different.  

And then of course there were the bees.  The senior partner for the firm I worked for in England was a beekeeper and he would bring in honey to share every time he visited us.  From this I became aware of something that might be of interest to me that I could do.  One day in 2013 some beekeepers asked if there was a place that they could put their hives on the estate.  I said I had an orchard adjoining my garden and asked them if that would do? Even though they did not take up the offer they gave me a hive to start me off and that is what got me into beekeeping. I bought all the kit and brought all of it up with me when we moved to Moray.  I had the hives at home for about a year but unfortunately Elizabeth became allergic to bees and that is when I phoned you up in a panic back in 2017 to ask if my hives could become part of the FHT apiary. Beekeeping has become an absolute passion of mine and it is so good to be able to do it with others managing the FHT apiary.

What aspects have you found most satisfying with regards to the FHT work that you have been involved in?

Being able to use my experience of land management and see the land management subgroup develop into a good functional group with progress being made and things evolving over the years.  To be able to assist in the administration of it and seeing it really making progress has been most satisfying. 

With the bees it is having an audience – being able to talk about them and share knowledge.  I particularly liked when we had one of our work parties with about fifteen people turning up and whilst they were all cleaning or putting frames together I was showing small groups a nearby hive and talking about bees all morning.  It is also so lovely when people come and join us tending bees and we all share our knowledge and interest.

The other thing that is great is the educational aspect offered by the FHT  such as the two visits from the Forres Secondary school.  Seeing fifty youngsters being engaged with the land and wanting to learn about it is also very satisfying.

With fellow Bee Keeper John Willoner

What would be a high dream for the FHT if anything was possible?

If I had three wishes, the first would concern changing the physical.  It is lovely to see the landscape evolving but what I would really love to see would be the land between here and the sea with far less gorse and trees and the wildness and openness restored giving a sense of discovery – going around every corner and finding something different and unusual.  At the other end of the spectrum, looking at the spiritual side, the land should be a place where people feel that it is a thin place where heaven feels not far away- a place where people find tranquillity and reconciliation. On the human side I would like to see a place where people reconcile with nature, learn about nature, understand it and feel a part of it and ultimately in one hundred years time there are still people here that can enjoy it.

Interviewed by Jonathan Caddy

FHT Chair 

16th August 2023

FHT Land Management Team

Posted in News

News from the (Hinter) land – Summer 2023

It’s late, as I write this… and yet – there is still a golden glow in the tops of the trees and the air smells of summer…  Erica and Calluna vulgaris have painted patches of purple heather on the land once the spring’s yellows faded.

June was warm and dry – the warmest and driest in many places in the UK.  Warm here too – but we only had to water newly planted trees once. July and early August were wet, but not continuously so – we still had some decent spells of sunshine – here on the Findhorn peninsular. Often I would see the rain coming down in Forres, yet here the sun was still shining. Lots of rainbows…  And of course it was perfect growing weather for our young trees. Every week a few little oaks were peaking above their spiral tubes, asking to be housed in the larger tubes before the deer would find their tender tips.  And even though it was a damper summer than usual – I noticed that our fungi were taking their time, being cautioned by the dry June.

A lot of the work this summer so far was either ‘tree-care’ – helping the young trees to grow, or gorse cutting on tracks and paths and on some of our ‘species rich grasslands’.  And then there was the integration of human needs and the needs of the rest of nature. Keeping clear paths open channels human traffic and prevents the many feet walking across lichen beds. Offering designated camping pads keeps people off places where a tent would be quite destructive to the myriad little creatures we barely notice. Having designated fire-places reduces the risks of wildfires.

We also had quite a few celebrations at the shelter at the Green Burial Ground, and a constant flow of campers coming and going.  Every Friday morning the ’Findhorn  fledglings’ and their parents are at the picnic table…  As I write this 10 participants of a ‘Vision Quest’ group are tucked away somewhere on the land for their four days ‘solo time’. We are hoping that this group (‘Eschwege Institut’ from Germany) will conduct their whole programme here next summer. And here it is – the word ‘hope’…

Of course the Findhorn Hinterland Trust is part of the Findhorn Eco-village community and most of you would have heard about the radical changes we are going through as a community. All of us here in ‘The Park’ are affected.  It’s both scary and exciting. Whenever things are in flux and the future uncertain we take refuge in ‘trust’ and ‘hope’. It’s not just a new chapter of this community which is about to be written – it’s more like a ‘sequel’. A new book which continues the story of the first.  And we, the FHT, will have a role to play in this new adventure.

Whenever the turmoil around me becomes too confusing, I choose to go out onto the land… sit under a tree… and become still… still enough to hear the low murmur of the forest.  Or when a beautiful sunset beckons – I sit on a dune and let my eyes go far across the sea…  The sea and the trees remind me of something within and around them which is so much bigger than the ups and downs of our human endeavours.  Something which is also within and around me – and clearly felt when I become still enough…

Maybe that’s why people do ‘Vision Quests’ – to re-member and find the essence of tree and sea within themselves …

Blessed be, blessed be…

Kajedo, August ‘23


Posted in News

Sharing Nature with Children

An Inspiring FHT Day Workshop

On Saturday the 26th of June, I had the wonderful opportunity of participating in the Sharing Nature with Children workshop led by Roy Simpson, a resident of the Park and fellow nature lover and caretaker.

Throughout the day’s workshop, Roy led our group through a series of games designed to educate children (or teens and adults alike) and help connect them to the nature surrounding them. The workshop was primarily aimed at other educators who can bring these games, activities and ideas to children or students. I myself am not an educator or teacher (though perhaps one day it is something I would be interested in), I’m just a young traveller who has fallen in love with the magic of Findhorn and enjoys getting involved in all the interesting things offered here. Educator or not, young or old, I think this workshop has something for everyone and I had such a lovely and inspiring time with Roy, the rest of the group and of course Mother Nature.

The various activities encourage a perspective that nature is an incredible life force worthy of our love, respect and attention. It is something we ourselves are very much a part of, and to protect it we must understand it. To understand it, we must take time and space to step out of ourselves and explore the wonderful world around us. Marvel at the jagged zig zagging tree bark, the soft cushioned beds of lime green moss, or the smooth and shining water worn stones, the whooshing and whistling wind, the deep and fragrant woody aroma of pine, a brilliant pink foxglove against a green, earthy Forest backdrop, the sweet scent of coconut on the air amongst golden gorse, a gentle echo of cooing pigeons and sweet melodic songs of blackbirds, the breathless beauty of an endless horizon and where the silvery sea meets a vast cloud strewn sky…

Each day after the workshop, I have felt the urge to spend more time with nature. Not just walking outside, but truly being with nature. Developing a relationship the same way you would a good friend. Doing nothing in particular. Just spending time with each other. Listening, watching, observing, admiring, learning, connecting…

So each time I get the gentle and spontaneous inclination to idly wander the hinterland, or to sit quietly in one of the gardens. I follow my curiosity and let nature do the talking. 

We all have so much to learn and so much to gain from reconnecting with the natural world around us. I am very thankful to Roy for holding the workshop, for inspiring me, and for sharing some wonderful ideas and ways to deepen my connection with the natural world. I hope in the sharing or my experience, I can inspire the same in you.

Emma Dowling

Young Traveller from Oz 

and new FHT Member 

June 2023

Stop press – Roy Simpson will be running this informative and inspiring workshop again on the Hinterland on Saturday the 16th September.  Please sign up and join us by following this link if you are interested.


Posted in News

The Rich Lichen Biodiversity of the Findhorn Dunes

The 2008 Findhorn Dunes Trust Lichen Survey by Brian and Sandy Coppins found 130 lichens and 15 lichenicolous fungus – these are tiny fungi growing on lichens- growing on the sand, on pebbles and on heather stems at Findhorn.  This number has now grown to over 200- all possible because I live locally and being a member of the Findhorn Hinterland Trust means I visit frequently and I enjoy adding to the knowledge we are building up about the land.

This also means that changes in the population can be seen. A beautiful little lichen, Placopsis, which is normally found in Highland and western Scotland on damp acid rocks was surprisingly found here, growing on 14 pebbles in a little group. Maybe a spore blew in and allowed the first one to grow, which then spread on to the other pebbles nearby. Now it has gone – the crusty lichen probably flaked off and blewaway.

Placopsis growing on a damp rock in the Highlands. This lichen is a partnership of 3 organisms- it is a fungus that partners with a green alga and a cyanobacterium which is inside the star-shaped structures. All together they form the lichen- a mini-eco-system. The “jam tarts” contain tiny fungal spores which will be ejected and need to find new partners to grow into a new lichen. Copyright Heather Paul.

Placopsis growing on a pebble at Findhorn. This lichen is usually difficult to remove but the lichens growing at Findhorn on pebbles were not so strongly attached. Copyright Heather Paul.

On the other hand Peltigera malacea, endangered and nationally rare, continues to grow well on the sand and some beautiful P malacea that was destroyed by a motorbike going up a bank about 6 years ago has now recovered. This lichen is greeny-blue when damp but brown and curled up when it is hot and dry.

Peltigera malacea, damp after rain, surrounded by tiny Cladonia “pixie cups”. Copyright Heather Paul

In July 2023 after 15 years of looking for it, I found a  small population of Cetraria islandica, a lichen that is more usually found on mountains but sometimes grows on coastal heathlands. Although not a moss, it is also called“Iceland Moss.”  This lichen is important as food for caribou and reindeer and is “soaked for a few days to remove bitter acids it contains, then boiled and eaten either as a broth or jelly.“ (Frank Dobson, Lichens) An incredibly versatile addition to food, it has also been used in making bread and ship’s biscuits to help them last longer, for throat pastilles, herbal sweets and herb tea.  It’s been added to luncheon meat and cream-filled pastries to reduce spoilage, and has also been used as a laxative and taken for coughs, tuberculosis and as an antibiotic!  (The Vanishing Lichens, David Richardson).

Brown Cetraria islandica (Iceland moss) growing on the coastal dune heathland at Findhorn. Copyright Heather Paul.

On the same day in July two lichenicolous fungi were found growing on Peltigera – Refractohilum peltigerae and Dacampia peltigericola. They were just microscopic black dots, difficult to see with the human eye and needed to be looked at through a microscope to see the internal structures. They were identified by Brian Coppins and are new to Great Britain and Ireland.  

The photo shows the asci (sacs) which contain brown spores (reproductive parts) of Dacampia peltigericola. When these are released they can grow into another tiny fungus living on a lichen.

Microscope image of Dacampia peltigericola, lichenicolous fungus, growing on Peltigera malacea at Findhorn. Copyright Heather Paul.

This is all part of the rich biodiversity of the Findhorn Hinterland and part of the unseen web of life.

Aren’t we fortunate to live with such riches on our doorstep?

Heather Paul

FHT Member and Lichen Enthusiast 

August 2023

Posted in News

Our Wonderful Woodland Garden

The last few months have seen abundance in the garden, not just in harvest but in wildlife, be it the small beings in the pond to larger visitors; all sharing this bountiful space. In fact, so much so that we humans have had to take a beat and remember this is a shared edible landscape.

There have been numerous group visits from tours, arts programmes, permaculture organisations and many more, so the garden continues to inspire. Meanwhile the Outdoor Learning Space is increasingly being used for get-togethers, music, reading and writing and solo meditations. The new comfy bench has proved a real hit and the new glass window so wonderfully fitted by a volunteer is fantastic and provides a view onto the new wind and hanging plant garden to the rear. Thanks also to the removal of the sadly ineffective stove and burner we have more room in the space.

The new Outdoor Learning Space window

It has also been a challenging time too, with less helpers it takes more to keep the garden flourishing, so please if you say you are coming please let me know if you cannot make it. Saturdays at 9am remains the day and time I am usually there if you want to drop by on a more informal basis.

What’s on show at the moment you may ask? Well we have wild bergamot in perfusion, as well as a wonderful display of strawflowers, runner beans, sunflowers and coral fungus. So drop by soon or contact me if you wish to volunteer. I am particularly  looking for a committed volunteer who can be mentored into the practices of the garden, so please contact me if interested.

Draeyk van der Horn

FHT Woodland Garden Orchestrator

15th August 2023


Posted in News

Committed Long-Term Volunteer/Apprenticeship Opportunities

Build It and They Will Come!

The story so far. The Shepherds Hut has been fundraised for, built, finished and moved into Wilkies Woodland – thank you to all who have been involved in the process.  A bell tent complete with a small wood stove was also  purchased and pitched  by FHT last spring to accommodate Irene Canalis, a keen young Spanish lady who lived in it connecting intimately with the land until she left in the autumn.  During her time as a long-term committed volunteer she had regular engagement with tasks on the land guided by Kajedo and myself, daily journaling about the experiences/insights and also frequent review sessions. She helped us start to think about how the Trust might develop this role further, possibly into a  future land management  apprentice programme?  We were all learning with Irene and it turned out to be a very valuable experience.

FHT’s future needs: FHT is committed to looking after the land it is custodian of for at least 100+ years ahead partly due to being the burial authority for the Wilkies Wood green burial ground which requires it to look after that piece of land for 100 years after the last burial and partly to do with our work with managing different habitats which require us to plan well into the future. Over the years many local volunteers have engaged with caring for this special backyard with this work underpinned and at least equaled by our part-time skilled and knowledgeable Land Manager Kajedo Wanderer who is essential to the smooth running of this part of the charity’s work.  Kajedo is dedicated to carrying on this good work but there will come a time when he may wish to take things easier which is why we need younger people learning the skills and knowledge required to eventually take up the challenge – FHT needs to be thinking about succession planning.  This is also important with Draeyk van der Horn’s excellent work as a very experienced gardener in the Woodland Garden, a small demonstration plot on the edge of the community.  Individuals are wonderful and essential but even more important is to have good organisational structures to take good ideas and work into the future. The long-term volunteer/apprenticeship programme we wish to establish should allow the possibility of smooth and planned transitions to take place.

What is on offer:  The land the FHT manages is a very special backyard in its own right with a fascinating mosaic of different habitats and some rare species living there.  It is also a vibrant part of what is now called The Park Ecovillage Findhorn, a community dedicated to co-creation with Nature and  known worldwide for its Nature and heart based spirituality.  For the right person it could be a very desirable place to be. Living on the land in the bell tent or Shepherd’s Hut and learning how to take care of the Earth in very practical ways from a knowledgeable team could provide an opportunity to step out of the ‘rat-race’ and give that person an extended period of simple living surrounded by trees and close to both the sea and the dynamic ecovillage community.    

Putting out the call.  FHT now has suitable accommodation for the right people to become committed apprentices. This could happen over the summer staying in our bell tent and working with Draeyk in the Woodland Garden and at least over a whole year to work with Kajedo and other members of the team using  the Shepherds Hut for accommodation.  Are you that person or do you know someone who would thrive given this possibility of developing a career or additional experience in these fields?  Further details would be discussed and worked out. If you are that person do get in touch by emailing [email protected] or by phoning 07825 212816.  We look forward to exploring this exciting possibility with you.

Jonathan Caddy

FHT Chair 

May 2023  

Posted in News
Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC045806
228 Pineridge, Findhorn, Forres, Moray IV36 3TB