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Scotland Branch Winter Seminar and AGM 2024


Crathes Castle, Gardens & Estate, Banchory, Aberdeenshire AB31 5QH


6 hours

Places Available


Exc. VAT Inc. VAT

Course Objectives:


The event is free-of-charge and all members and non-members are welcome to attend. Spaces are limited, however, so please register your attendance in advance, ideally no later than Monday 29th January 2024, by booking online at: www.trees.org.uk/Training

Refreshments and lunch:

There will be tea and coffee with a buffet style lunch..


Those attending should make a donation to the National Trust Scotland.


Crathes Castle, Banchory, Aberdeenshire AB31 5QH.

What3Words: ///cookbooks.packets.smiles (for the car-park).

The entrance to the castle and grounds is via the signposted main drive off the A93. If you travel by bus, it is a 1 mile walk from the driveway entrance to the ticket office, café and gift shop.
Please note that some satnav systems may direct you via private roads; the co-ordinates for the entrance to the drive are: 57.056667 & -2.426428

2024 Annual General Meeting:

2:45pm on Saturday 3rd February 2024 at Crathes Castle


1. Apologies for absence
2. Approval of 2023 AGM Minutes
3. Matters arising from the 2023 AGM Minutes
4. Officers’ reports
4.1 Chairman
4.2 Secretary
4.3 Editor
5. Appointment of Committee
6. Election of Officers
6.1 Chair
6.2 Vice-Chair
6.3 Secretary
6.4 Editor
7. Any other competent AGM business

Any AGM queries or agenda items to: Chris Simpson (Chair) on: 07881 677813 or informedtree@btinternet.com 
Minutes of the previous AGM held at Chatelherault Country Park on the 28th of January 2023 are available online at the Association’s website Scottish Branch page.

Course Content:

Saturday 3rd February 2024 Programme:

The event will be held in the ‘Horsemill’ room at Crathes Castle. You will be directed from the main entrance/reception.

09:30 Assemble for tea and coffee.
10:00 Welcome and introduction by Chris Simpson, Scottish Branch Chair
10:15 Talk 1 – Fires in the Forest – Good or Bad? Dr. Peter Thomas FLS
11:15 Tea and coffee
11:30 Talk 2 – Lichens on trees – recognition and relevance. Petra Vergunst
12:15 Lunch
13:00 Guided walk led by Petra Vergunst
14:00 Tea and coffee
14:30 Ken Martin Memorial Award and Tom Hall Literary Award
14:45 Scottish Branch Annual General Meeting (see separate agenda).
15:30 Close

Social Event Friday 2nd February 2024

Talk 1: Fires in the Forest – Good or Bad?
Presented by:
Dr. Peter Thomas FLS


Dr Peter Thomas is an Emeritus Reader at Keele University and an Associate of Harvard Forest at Harvard University USA. He is also the curator of a National Collection of ornamental cherries at Keele. His research and teaching are cantered around anything to do with trees and this has taken him to all continents where trees grow and has  covered numerous topics from where in the ground water is absorbed by roots, to seed production, to the adaptations of trees to fire. Peter is the author of many scientific papers, monographs and books on trees, woodland ecology and forest fires.


Forest fires get a bad press as homes and lives are lost around the world. Yet in many parts of the world fire is not just tolerated, it is needed by trees and animals. We will look at the adaptations of trees (and in passing other plants and animals) for coping with fire and indeed using it to their own ends, from helping to spread seeds to the phoenix trees that rise from the ashes. But times are changing and many forests around the world seem to be getting more fire than they can cope with. Fires are becoming more common and larger due to previous decades of keeping fire out of the forest, aided by climate change and the invasion of flammable non-native plants. The media claim that our forests are being ‘destroyed’. Where does the truth lie in this? What does the future look like in the UK and how will it affect our trees?

Talk 2: Lichens on trees – recognition and relevance
Presented by:
Petra Vergunst


Petra Vergunst is a field ecologist specialised in lichens and bryophytes. To engage people with lichens and bryophytes and help with identification, she has set up the website Scottish Lichens and the similarly named Facebook group. Petra is passionate about biological recording as a means to monitor changes in the quality of the environment and has done extensive surveys of the forests and woodlands, the heritage landscape and the coastline of North East Scotland where she lives. She also has a specific interest in reading the landscape through the lens of lichens and bryophytes and the insights doing so may provide.


We will look at what lichens actually are, and how, as epiphytes, they interact with trees. This will also give us the chance to look at issues of lichen conservation.

Guided Tour with Petra Vergunst

Petra will lead a tour of the Crathes Castle grounds with the emphasis on looking for lichens on some of the broadleaved trees and learning some of the common species and their relevance.

Module Pre-requisites:


Terms of Cancellation or Amendments to details

  • We reserve the right to cancel courses and refund applicants if there is insufficient demand.
  • A FULL charge will be applied to any booking cancelled less than 10 working days before the event.
  • A £30 administration charge may be applied to changes made to bookings that have been received and acknowledged.

For all course bookings outside the UK and Europe, please email training@trees.org.uk