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Tue Jun 4| News

Seeds of Hope – an includem green project

To mark World Environment Day 2024, we’re publishing the below article  – which was drafted for the press earlier this year – on our Seeds of Hope project.

We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved – from the young people and our colleagues who have taken part in planting.

In particular, we want to thank MacArthur Green for their ongoing support of this project.


Scottish charity includem has boosted the drive to reforest rural areas of Scotland thanks to its own special environmental project in which children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have planted more almost 450 trees with 550 in the bank.

Includem, based in Glasgow, set up Seeds of Hope to encourage the young people they work with to plant Aspens and other indigenous saplings in designated sites earmarked for reforestation, in turn fostering a new interest in the environment and the need to tackle climate change.

A recent trip saw includem take a group of young people to Lochgair, near Lochgilphead, to plant trees on land owned by environmental consultancy MacArthur Green, which is developing a nature reserve and native woodland.

Includem has also worked with the Woodland Trust and National Trust for Scotland to plant trees at Rowardennan, at the foot of Ben Lomond – and has secured a further £3,000 grant from the Trossachs National Park for 700 trees – which will be planted by more young people the charity helps.

The aim of Seeds of Hope is to eventually plant one tree for every single young person includem supports in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Stirling.

Green Ambassador John Gemmell said the origins of Seeds of Hope came from the unique work which includem has always sought to deliver – delivering a package of support for children and young people who need help with their overall health and wellbeing so they can make positive changes in their lives and see a brighter future.

He said: “We launched Seeds of Hope as we wanted to introduce the young people we work with to the environment and make them more aware of what it is like to live and work in the countryside.

“For many of them, they have come from a life and background where what is going on in the environment is the least of their concerns – and which in some cases they’ve never ever heard about before. So we wanted to give them an opportunity of getting their wellies on – some had never worn wellies before – and getting out into the countryside to plant trees.

“It seemed a natural thing for us to do, following the success of previous beach cleans which the young people were supporting. The team thought it was a great idea, and so it has proved.”

The key to Seeds of Hope is that the planting of the trees by the young people of includem is very much the end product of a careful, specialist process. John said that includem first approached environmental organisations to see if they would support the campaign, and also provide some useful advice so it provided a lasting benefit.

John continued: “The organisations we heard back from included MacArthur Green, the Woodlands Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Trossachs National Park, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

“MacArthur Green, who like us are based in Glasgow, were fantastic from the very beginning; they gave us the opportunity to plant trees at the land they own in Lochgair.”

Then it was a case of sourcing the right trees in which to plant. Includem connected with Eadha Enterprises Lochwinnoch a social enterprise whose expertise is in conservation and native woodlands, as well as supporting local communities to deliver woodland projects. They provided includem with the trees at a special rate and made sure that they were providing trees not only native to Scotland but also the particular area of the country where they were going to be planted.

John said: “Eadha were fantastic and provided a really great price for us. They said they’d also provide trees on a “when required” basis so there’s no pressure on us to get the trees planted straight away. Eadha also helped to ensure that when we do plant trees, they are the right trees planted for that area – which is also vitally important.”

John recalls the day they travelled the 40-odd miles to the site in Argyll and Bute. He said: “It was a typical wet Scottish day – in fact wet was an understatement! But the young people we took absolutely loved it – you could see that they were really enjoying themselves. They got to enjoy what we all really like to do as youngsters – get our hands dirty. They got to dig holes, fertilise the trees and make sure they were properly secured. It was hugely satisfying and they really did get the most out of it.

“That really gave us the sort of foundation we want to find unique tree planting opportunities – opportunities where the young people are really making a difference by planting trees that are not already part of any pre-existing scheme. These are extra trees over and above the schemes that are already out there.”

The campaign has continued to grow. The National Trust for Scotland granted includem access to a part of land on Loch Lomond where they planted a further 30 trees. Now they’ve secured the Trossachs National Park grant to really ramp up their tree-planting and expand the opportunity to young people they support throughout Scotland.

But John says the key to it all is to keep young people who planted the trees engaged and thinking about the environment well into the future. Includem has encouraged them to monitor the progress of their individual tree through what3words navigation and apps.

John continued: “We give all our trees a what3words location – what3words is a grid system which provides an easy way to provide a precise location so that all our young people, once they’ve planted their own tree or trees, can then keep tabs on how their trees are doing.

“It means they will always remember their tree – it’s not only fun, it also really personalises and bonds them to the experience of tree planting, and the benefit to the environment.”

John added: “There is so much potential for future projects. It’s been hugely rewarding for us as well as for our young people. They have embraced it fully, and it’s been tremendous to see. There is so much potential out there to get young people involved in green projects in their own communities as well as throughout Scotland.”

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