On Thursday 25th May 2023, Pat Sawers (Lord Lieutenant of Angus), Brian Boyd, Provost of Angus and Councillor David Cheape planted the 1000th sapling into the ground on The Carnoustie Buddon Course. In attendance was Michael Wells (Chief Executive of Carnoustie Golf Links), Craig Boath (Head of Sustainability at Carnoustie Golf Links), Simon Inger and Steven Reid (Seagreen) and local children from Carlogie and Burnside schools.
In 2018 Carnoustie Golf Links began working with Seagreen, a joint venture project between SSE Renewables and TotalEnergies, on a development that will provide Scotland, and the wider UK, with critical green infrastructure and will become Scotland’s largest and the world’s deepest offshore wind farm, helping to meet Scotland’s net-zero targets and tackle climate change. Part of this project required Carnoustie to fell or transplant 200 trees from the route along the new cables. In agreement with Angus Council, Carnoustie Golf Links were required to re-plant one tree for every tree that was felled. The Links then went one step further, not only committing to replacing all trees felled, but to plant a total of 1000 new trees across the courses.
Craig Boath, Head of Sustainability at Carnoustie Golf Links said: “We are dedicated to contributing to the natural environment of our courses. With an abundance of wildlife calling the Links ‘home’, we want to make sure that we both protect what we already have and enhance the eco-system for the future. Although there were a few delays on the way, the Seagreen Project felt a very natural opportunity to combine with and deliver our own planting project.”
The new trees at the Links will offset approx. 1,610 tonnes of carbon over their lifetime of roughly 40 years, helping the Links on their way to achieving their ambition of becoming a Carbon Net-Zero organisation.
Michael Wells, Chief Executive of Carnoustie Golf Links said: “Carnoustie Golf Links is dedicated to doing the right thing for our local community and the natural habitats that surround us. We took a big step this year in appointing the brand-new role of Head of Sustainability, a position focused on ensuring that we are doing all that we can to protect and enhance our environment. This tree planting project is one that the whole team have got behind, with many of our staff helping in the planting efforts and leaving a small but significant legacy on the Links.”
Seagreen’s Onshore Project Manager, Steven Reid said: “We have formed a good partnership with Carnoustie Golf Links as we have tried to minimise the impact and disturbance felt during the construction works of Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm, Seagreen. We’re pleased to have helped contribute to the number of trees being planted across the course at Carnoustie and to the overall ecology of the Golf Links as part of our project works.”
Carnoustie once again aims to lead the way, this time in the sustainability aspect of the business. The new Head of Sustainability role is a first for Carnoustie, and a rare position within the sport of golf.
Pat Sawers, Lord Lieutenant of Angus and past Chairman of CGLMC Ltd said: “As a current Season Ticket Holder at Carnoustie Golf Links, it’s wonderful to know that the team at the Links are taking the sustainability and ecology of the golf courses seriously. If we want our courses to flourish well into the future, we know that they need to be looked after, and should work harmoniously within the eco-system. It is a great honour to be involved in planting the 1000th tree in this admirable project.”
Brian Boyd, Provost of Angus said “I am extremely honoured to have the opportunity to plant the 1000th tree here at Carnoustie. The Links are very well placed to make a significant impact on the local natural environment and it’s excellent to see the great work that’s going on down here. I know that this is not the end of the tireless environmental work that is happening across the organisation and I look forward to seeing more projects like this coming to fruition in the future.”
Councillor David Cheape said: I am very proud to see a project like this taking place in my home town. As Convenor of Carnoustie Golf Links Community Benefits Programme, I often get to see much of the good work that goes on here at Carnoustie, and this is another project that I’m delighted to be part of. The golf courses at Carnoustie are excellent natural habitats and I hope that these new trees will benefit not only the wildlife on the courses, but also enhance the vistas for all of the local people who walk the courses.
In a bid to contribute further to the area of sustainability within the golf industry, Carnoustie are currently working with Bob Taylor and Sophie Olejnik, Ecological Consultants from The R&A with the purpose of delivering an exciting new 5-year project which has the aim of demonstrating the biodiversity value of golf courses. The R&A Sustainable Championship Agronomy Team have selected a series of exemplar Championship venues for this project to be undertaken, one of which is Carnoustie Golf Links. Although the study was to be contained only over The Carnoustie Championship Course, the scope has been widened to cover the whole estate. Carnoustie hopes to help by providing further evidence to illustrate that golf is good for the maintenance of natural habitats and biodiversity. The project will consist of a series of surveys including wildlife audits and habitat condition assessments. The information gathered will be used to inform the management of habitats to further enhance the golf course, and to develop a monitoring plan to be delivered over four years focussing on different groups of population across mammals, plants, invertebrates, herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) and birds. It is hoped that the project will be able to truly quantify the ecological value of golf.
Carnoustie Golf Links is not new to contributing to the nature on the courses, over the years, the Links have carried out a wealth of environmental projects with some highlights including Operation Pollinator – where wildflower seeds were sown throughout the courses (on areas out with play) and kidney vetch planting – to help encourage more Small Blue Butterflies to the area. Both projects were carried out with help from the local primary schools. Sea Pea planting has also taken place in conjunction with Dundee Botanic Gardens. Furthermore, managed turf areas have been cut down to increase habitat corridors and the acquisition of an Eco Green Composter has helped recycle turf, soil, and sand to create a great growing medium for future works on the Links.