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Prior to 1984 native trees in Orkney, other than willows, were confined to Berriedale in North Hoy and to a few glens, gullies and steep faces, mostly on Mainland and Hoy, which sheep were unable to graze. The majority of willow species in Orkney are immune to sheep because of their situation in wetland. But a more serious threat than sheep was an ever-present risk that a heather fire could wipe out the native tree population in Berriedale and its surrounding area.
So in the early 1980s Orkney Field Club members set about creating a plantation in Durkadale, Birsay, using seedlings and cuttings from Orkney's native stock. Sheep and rabbit-proof netting was erected and a shelter belt of conifers planted.
Today, twenty-five years later, the results bear witness to the far-sightedness, dedication and hard work of those who founded and still maintain the Durkadale Plantation. The Club now has a thriving collection of mature native tree species which are providing seed for propagation elsewhere in Orkney, and valuable winter shelter for bird species such as redwings and for more unusual visitors such as the occasional long-eared owl.