Trees for Life is to establish the world’s first rewilding centre near Loch Ness in the Highlands – thanks to more than £2 million of support from The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), The National Lottery Heritage Fund and other funding.
The groundbreaking centre will be at Dundreggan, the charity’s 10,000-acre estate in Glenmoriston. It is expected to welcome over 50,000 visitors annually – allowing people to explore stunning wild landscapes, discover Gaelic culture, and learn about the region’s unique wildlife including golden eagles, pine martens, red squirrels and wood ants. The centre will boost the rural economy by providing a new attraction on the journey between Loch Ness and Skye, and benefit the local community through at least 15 new local jobs.
“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,” said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive. “Dundreggan has become a beacon of how to rewild a landscape. With this centre, it will become a beacon for rewilding people too.”
The Rewilding Centre has been developed following extensive consultation with the local community. 10 per cent of local residents responded to requests for feedback, and all were overwhelmingly positive. Planning permission in principle was granted by Highland Council in April 2019, and Trees for Life will apply for full planning permission this year. Construction should begin in early 2021, with the centre opening in 2022.
At Dundreggan, Trees for Life is protecting and expanding globally important fragments of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest. The estate is home to over 4,000 plant and animal species – including several never recorded in the UK before or once feared extinct in Scotland.