A new Gaelic place-name map is being developed to help rediscover the lost woods and wildlife of the Highlands.

It is appropriate as Scottish Gaelic is written with just 18 letters, each of which is named after a tree or shrub,

Now conservation charity Trees for Life, will promote the cultural importance of Scotland’s native woodland heritage, as part of its overall Rewilding the Highlands project, which involves the planting of more than 50,000 trees.

The initiative was launched with a two-day, 20-mile symbolic journey – Turas Nan Craobh: A Journey With Trees – near Loch Ness from the charity's Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston to Fort Augustus and Invergarry. Native trees were transported by two ponies and planted at key sites where place-names evoke a particular tree.

Members of the community, school pupils, artists, heritage and walking groups, and Trees for Life ecologists followed sections of old military and drove roads.

“Place-names contain a record of past ecology and can shed light on the woods and wildlife that once thrived in the Highlands and could do so again, with a little assistance from people,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder.

“With native woodland now covering just four per cent of Scotland – one of the lowest percentages in Europe – we want to inspire communities and schools to discover more about our cultural and native woodland heritage, and to involve them in restoring the endangered Caledonian Forest,” he said.

Participants in the Journey with Trees planted trees in gardens, school grounds and community green spaces, and in places where place-names evoke trees, such as Achadh-nan-darach – field of the oaks – on Abercalder Estate.

Poet Alec Finlay will now create the map – which will be used by schools and community groups, and to encourage tourism to less well-known areas – by exploring place-names relating to woodlands, animals, geology and human dwellings in Glen Affric, Glen Urquhart, Glenmoriston and Glen Garry.