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World’s First Rewilding Centre Opens

Updated: May 7, 2023

The world’s first rewilding centre has opened in the Scottish Highlands, offering experiential and educational opportunities within the UK’s largest nature recovery site.


Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, Scotland
Credit: Dundreggan Rewilding Centre | Paul Campbell

The Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, just eight miles from the shores of Loch Ness, is set on a former deer-stalking estate. Exploited for centuries by sheep, cattle and deer grazing, the 10,000 acre landscape is being nursed back to health by the charity Trees for Life, which bought the site in 2008.


Remarkably, the Centre was made possible by a £2m ($2.5m) crowdfunder that raised the funding in just than 48 hours, with over 400 people investing - only 8 percent of whom were based in Scotland.


The Centre is located within part of Affric Highlands, the UK’s largest rewilding landscape, which will ultimately span more than 500,000 acres, from the Highlands to Scotland’s Atlantic coast.


The estate is now home to more than 4,000 species of plants and animals, including many rare and protected species, and the charity’s tree nursery where around 90,000 trees are grown every year.


The rewilding centre will demonstrate to visitors how large-scale nature recovery can give people inspiring experiences, create jobs and benefit rural communities. The centre offers a variety of guided tours and invites visitors to experience rewilding in action and find out how you can play a part in protecting the natural world.


“For 15 years, Dundreggan has been a beacon for rewilding our landscapes. Now it will be a beacon for rewilding people too,” said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s chief executive.

Rare native trees have been reintroduced to the land, while a reduction in grazing has encouraged existing fragments of threatened Caledonian Forest - dubbed Scotland’s ‘rainforest’ - to thrive. In 2020, golden eagles bred on the estate for the first time in 40 years.


The centre includes a café, classrooms, a storytelling bothy, and events space, as well as accommodation.


“The speed at which the raise was achieved shows how passionate people are about protecting the UK’s wildlife,” said Whitni Thomas, head of corporate finance at Triodos Bank UK, which organised the crowdfunder. “Trees for Life is doing such important work to tackle the nature and climate emergencies here in the Highlands and we’re excited to see the visitor centre officially launch.”

 

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