Rewilding charity Trees for Life has showcased how large-scale nature restoration can create a wide range of environmental and economic benefits during a visit from Scotland’s minister for nature on 7 October.
Lorna Slater MSP, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, visited the Trees for Life flagship rewilding estate at Dundreggan, west of Loch Ness, to learn more about the charity’s pioneering work and its ambitious plans for the future.
Together with Trees for Life Chief Executive Steve Micklewright, Ms Slater – the Green MSP for Lothian Region – visited the under-construction Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, which will open next March.
The new centre will be the world’s first activity and education centre dedicated to rewilding, and is expected to welcome tens of thousands of visitors each year.
The rewilding centre will also create around 20 full-time equivalent jobs and will serve the local Glenmoriston community as a multi-use space that is open year-round.
The minister also visited Dundreggan’s specialist nursery, which grows tens of thousands of native trees each year for planting out on the hills of the estate and at other sites across the Highlands.
Steve Micklewright said:
“Rewilding is about hope, because it’s a fantastic way to tackle the nature and climate crises, while offering a cascade of benefits for people.
“From encouraging the return of lost wildlife and boosting biodiversity, to soaking up vast amounts of carbon, nature-rich landscapes also present economic opportunities that can sustain and diversify rural economies.”
Lorna Slater MSP said:
“Dundreggan is an exemplar of long-term nature restoration, bringing multiple benefits to the environment, local communities, and the many volunteers involved.
“The Scottish Government’s Forestry Grant Scheme is central to the delivery of our ambitious woodland creation ambitious targets.
“To date Scottish Forestry has approved £400,000 of Forestry Grant Scheme funding supporting 185 hectares of native woodland creation at Dundreggan.
“I want to thank Trees for Life on their hard work over the past 30 years with this project, and many others like it, that help to connect people with trees and restore Scottish woodland.”
Trees for Life is scaling up its mission to restore nature and create opportunities for local communities through its recently launched Affric Highlands initiative, which is being delivered together with Rewilding Europe and local people, businesses and landowners.
Affric Highlands is the UK’s largest landscape-scale rewilding project.
Taking in a potential area of half a million acres, and stretching from Drumnadrochit to Kintail, it will see the restoration of woodland, peatland and riverside habitats.
In 2023, Trees for Life will celebrate 30 years of rewilding the Scottish Highlands, as well as 15 years at Dundreggan.
The charity has been rewilding the former sporting estate since 2008, planting trees and supporting the natural regeneration of existing Caledonian pinewood fragments.
Those interested in working at the new Rewilding Centre should visit treesforlife.org.uk/jobs for more information.