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£2m for world’s first rewilding centre


By Lorna Thompson


A FINDHORN-BASED conservation charity is to establish the world’s first rewilding centre in the north.

Trees for Life will set up the centre near Loch Ness – thanks to more than £2 million from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other funding.

The ground-breaking centre will be built at Dundreggan, the charity’s 10,000-acre estate in Glenmoriston. It is expected to welcome more than 50,000 visitors annually – allowing people to explore the landscape and learn about the region’s golden eagles, pine martens, red squirrels and wood ants.

The new visitor attraction will boost the rural economy and create at least 15 new jobs.

Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life chief executive, said: "Dundreggan Rewilding Centre will showcase how rewilding and nature can give people amazing experiences, create jobs and really benefit local communities. It will celebrate one of the Highlands’ greatest assets – the wild landscapes and unique wildlife being returned through rewilding.

"Dundreggan has become a beacon of how to rewild a landscape. With this centre, it will become a beacon for rewilding people too."

Trees for Life's Rewilding Centre at Dundreggan will encourage people to learn more about native species such as the red squirrel. Picture: Mark Hamblin.
Trees for Life's Rewilding Centre at Dundreggan will encourage people to learn more about native species such as the red squirrel. Picture: Mark Hamblin.

An all-weather visitor centre, café and events space will act as gateway to fully accessible trails, child-friendly forest experiences and more adventurous walks.

The SNH fund granted £714,000, while the National Lottery Heritage Fund has given initial support of £783,000. Some £630,000 of other funding has been secured to enable the core of the centre to be built. Trees for Life is now seeking additional funding, including to power and heat the centre in a sustainable way.

The Rewilding Centre has been developed following community consultation. Planning permission in principle was granted by Highland Council in April last year, and Trees for Life will apply for full planning permission this year. Construction should begin early next year, with the centre opening in 2022.

Trees for Life is protecting and expanding globally important fragments of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest at Dundreggan. The estate is home to more than 4,000 plant and animal species – including several never recorded in the UK before or once feared extinct in Scotland. Visit www.treesforlife.org.uk for more information.



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