Half a million acre Scottish Highlands rewilding project launched




p up to half a million hectares of the Scottish Highlands are being rewilded following the launch of a project.

The Highlands Trees For Life Charity 30-year program, with funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, would create a vast nature salvage area – Affric Highlands – connecting Loch Ness to the west coast of Scotland .

He was officially welcomed by Rewilding Europe as the ninth member of its network of large pioneer rewilding areas during a ceremony at the Glenurquhart Public Hall in Drumnadrochit on the banks of the Loch.

The Highlands have enormous potential to help nature return and thus help people thrive, and to make a leading contribution to tackling global climate and natural emergencies.

The launch follows three years of consultation between Rewilding Europe, Trees For Life and other local partners.

A group of 20 landowners, covering at least 25% of the total area, and six organizations are already on board and Trees For Life is hoping more will join.

Work has started to involve local communities in practical actions to connect rewilding areas which are expected to start in 2023.

Affric Highlands aims to enhance habitat connectivity, species diversity, and social and economic opportunities in an area of ​​over 500,000 acres stretching from Loch Ness across the Central Highlands to Kintail in the west, and encompassing the Cannich, Affric, Moriston and Shiel valleys.

A map of the area Affric Highlands would potentially cover (Trees for Life / PA)

Steve Micklewright, Managing Director of Trees For Life, said: “With Scotland’s rapidly growing rewilding movement – and the Scottish Rewilding Alliance calling for Scotland to become the world’s first rewilding nation, with the rewilding 30% of the country’s land and seas by 2030 – Affric Highlands will take large-scale nature recovery to a new level, at the same time providing a catalyst for the local economy.

“The Highlands have enormous potential to help nature return and thus help people thrive, and to make a leading contribution to tackling global climate and natural emergencies.

“We are delighted that Affric Highlands is now one of Rewilding Europe’s major rewilding areas which is inspiring hundreds of other rewilding projects across the continent. “

Rewilding Europe The eight other rewilding areas in Europe are the great Coa Valley in Portugal; the Danube Delta in Ukraine, Romania and Moldova; the Carpathians of southern Romania; the Velebit mountains of Croatia; the central Italian Apennines; the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria; the Oder Delta in Germany and Poland; and Swedish Lapland.

The project would rehabilitate areas, including Glen Affric (Grant Willoughby / Trees for Life / PA)

Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe, said: “Affric Highlands is a bold, exciting and inspiring endeavor to restore nature as Scotland moves up the biodiversity rankings. Our decision to accept the project as our ninth rewilding area reflects the hard work and accomplishments of Trees For Life, its volunteers and partners.

“Including Affric Highlands in our portfolio of large European rewilding areas will help amplify the impact of rewilding in the Highlands and place it firmly on the world map. “

Trees For Life has established nearly two million native trees to restore the globally significant Caledonian forest on its own 10,000-acre estate at Dundreggan in Glenmoriston – which will become what would be the world’s first rewilding center in 2023 – and elsewhere in the Highlands.


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