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Affric Highlands Rewilding Initiative Spotlights Young People, Nature and Wellbeing at Inverness Event

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Rewilding charity Trees for Life will showcase its Affric Highlands youth engagement programme on Saturday 2 July at Eden Court in Inverness with the launch of a nature-inspired photography exhibition and a new Green Leadership Award.

The event (12 – 4 pm) is part of the inaugural Highland Climate Festival. 

Affric Highlands brings together communities and landowners to create a thriving social and nature-rich landscape across more than half a million acres stretching from Loch Ness to Kintail, and taking in Glens Affric, Cannich, Moriston and Shiel. 

The ambitious 30-year rewilding initiative will restore woodland, peatland and riverside habitats to help save native species from extinction, boost biodiversity, sustain new nature-based jobs and bring people back to the landscape.

The ‘Portraits of Recovery’ exhibition features work created by young people who live in the Affric Highlands area.

Invergarry Primary School, Kilchuimen Academy, Arnisdale and Glenelg Youth Group, and young people who access NHS Highland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, have all taken part.

Professional landscape photographer Mark Littlejohn, who is based in Wester Ross, will formally open the exhibition.

The young people’s photographs explore their connection to the local landscape, and how nature can help with their sense of wellbeing. 

Alan McDonnell, Programme Development Manager at Trees for Life, said:

“People are central to rewilding and to the success of Affric Highlands, so we are really excited to be working with schools and community organisations at this early stage of the project’s development.

“By nurturing the deep connections that local young people have with this awe-inspiring landscape, we hope they will become nature champions within their communities, inspired by the physical and mental wellbeing benefits that rewilding brings.”

Following the opening of the exhibition, Trees for Life and High Life Highland will launch a new Highlands Green Leadership SCQF Award, adding an environmental strand to High Life Highland’s existing Youth Leadership programme. 

Elizabeth McDonald, Leadership Programme Development Officer at High Life Highland, said:

“It’s brilliant to be working with Trees for Life in the development of this new Green Leadership Award and we welcome the opportunities it will bring to local people. 

“Through our countryside ranger service, High Life Highland shares many of the aspirations of Trees for Life to protect biodiversity and tackle climate change, while involving and benefiting people.

“This new collaboration sets this exciting shared journey in motion.”

Prior to the exhibition launch (12 – 2 pm), local artist Innes Anderson will lead a family-friendly eco-art workshop in Eden Court’s Jim Love Studio.

Participants will get a first look at the 30 featured photographs, with the opportunity to provide creative responses and feedback.

‘Portraits of Recovery’ will be on display at Eden Court’s 1st-floor gallery space until 30 July.

The workshop is free to attend with no prior booking required. 

Affric Highlands is a Trees for Life initiative which scales up the charity’s mission to demonstrate how large-scale nature recovery creates jobs and benefits rural communities.

For more information, see treesforlife.org.uk.

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