Home   News   Article

Rewilding documentary When the Bough Breaks, featuring Trees For Life founder Alan Featherstone, is to be shown at Universal Hall on Saturday, March 16

By Garry McCartney

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Trees For Life founder Alan Featherstone.
Trees For Life founder Alan Featherstone.

A FILM about a local environmentalist’s pioneering re-wilding work is being screened in Findhorn ahead of a Q&A with him.

Trees For Life founder Alan Featherstone is a central character in the documentary directed by a former volunteer at the charity, ‘When the Bough Breaks’, to be shown at Universal Hall at 7.30pm on Saturday, March 16.

He said: “We do not have to accept the depleted and impoverished landscapes we’ve inherited due to overexploitation, but instead can assist and accelerate greater biological diversity and natural abundance. The aim is to re-establish a healthy, natural ecosystem with its full complement of native species, providing essential ecosystem services and a habitat for wildlife. This film provides a clear example of what one person can do to make a positive difference.”

It explores Alan’s restoration of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian forest. Bough Breaks’ combines cinematography with facts about Scotland’s environment. It has been described as “inspiring” and “uplifting”, with “beautiful footage, an immersive soundscape and heartfelt interviews”.

Alan’s approach to restoring habitats has become a blueprint for conservation. Forty years ago, he realised that his generation was likely to be the last that could save the Caledonian forest, now scattered across the Highlands. Despite having no previous experience or personal resources, he decided to try. As a result, his Trees For Life charity has been restoring the woodland since the 1980s.

Bough Breaks also explores how large-scale forestation can mitigate global conservation and climate crises. Contributors include conservationist and author Roy Dennis MBE, Orwell prize-winning journalist, activist and author George Monbiot and Mar Lodge Ecologist from BBC Springwatch/Winterwatch Shaila Rao.

Scots pines, bog myrtle and heather in bloom at Athnamulloch.
Scots pines, bog myrtle and heather in bloom at Athnamulloch.

The film premiered at the LUMA Festival at the University of York last June, with further screenings throughout Scotland and the UK, including at the Kings Conference Centre, University of Aberdeen as part of the North East Scotland Ecology Network Symposium and at the new Rewilding Centre at Dundreggan, to celebrate 30 years of Trees for Life. It has also screened for NatureScot and SRUC, as well as Eden Court, Cromarty and An Lanntair Cinemas.

New screenings start again this month for The National Trust for Scotland, Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Climate Action North East, Argaty Red Kites and returning again to SRUC as part of Climate Week North East 2024, University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences and Cromarty Cinema.

Shortlisted for numerous awards, Bough Breaks got Best Environmental Film and Best Editing at the Cinematography and Photography Awards in London last year.

Film-maker Danny Strong first met Alan as a volunteer at Trees for Life in 2014 when he was just 18. His family film-making business is based in Aberdeenshire.

“That encounter was a bit of a watershed moment for me,” said Danny. “I returned home from that first visit really inspired and enthusiastic. The genesis of a film about Alan and rewilding began then, then my small production company Mousehole Films emerged. It’s been a challenge to bring the story of this inspiring and humble man to the screen but it’s been a privilege.”

The screening and Q&A at Universal Hall will be followed at 2pm on Sunday, March 17 at the same venue by a brief introduction to a dune restoration project by Findhorn Hinterland Trust.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More