"A very educational week with lots of fresh air, where you gain a new perspective on the biodiversity of the Highlands and our relationship with it."
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Dundreggan Conservation Estate is a 10,000 acre expanse of wild land owned by Trees for Life. Located near Loch Ness, it is our flagship forest restoration project and a centre for rewilding. You will take part in a variety of exciting activities to help restore the ancient Caledonian Forest, which could include tree planting, removing non-native species, growing rare trees in our nursery, collecting seeds and berries and carrying out important surveys to monitor forest regeneration. Additionally, you will be given a special talk about rewilding and forest restoration from our expert land manager, including information on reintroducing missing species such as the Eurasian lynx and European beaver.
You will take part in a variety of exciting activities to help restore the ancient Caledonian Forest, which will include planting in a newly created exclosure. Additionally, you will learn about rewilding and forest restoration, including information on reintroducing missing species such as the Eurasian lynx and European beaver. During this week you may also have the opportunity to learn about red squirrel ecology and conservation by carrying out surveys as part of the red squirrel re-introduction program being carried out by Trees for Life. Other work may include the removal of non-native species such as sitka spruce and lodge pole pine.
Accommodation is in Dundreggan Lodge, located next to the nursery. The lodge is situated on the southern boundary of Dundreggan, overlooking the River Moriston. This comfortable and warm building has three bunkrooms, a well appointed new kitchen, a large lounge/dining area, two en-suite shower rooms and two other shower/toilets. You will also have access to our growing library and equipment such as camera traps, microscope, bat detectors, moth traps as well as our hide, where pine martens are regularly seen. There are benches and a fire bowl in the garden for those who fancy an evening by a fire. There will be daily chores such as collecting firewood, cleaning tools as well as cooking meals.
Pillow case, duvet cover and bedsheets required.
Dundreggan supports a remarkable array of species. Golden eagles are regularly seen on Conservation Weeks and recent weeks have also produced sightings of ospreys, ravens, merlins, tawny owls and peregrine falcons. Other bird species of note include the great spotted woodpecker, golden plover, Scottish crossbill, black grouse, snipe, goosander and woodcock.
For the mammal enthusiasts amongst you, Dundreggan is home to three species of deer (red, roe and sika), mountain hares, otters and pine martens. There is also a huge wealth of invertebrate species, including many that are rare and endangered.
Dundreggan has been described as a 'lost world of biodiversity', with many rare species that are found nowhere else, and whilst here you will also have the opportunity to do the following:
One of the most popular activities is to explore Dundreggan estate with low level walks through the rare juniper habitat, get up to the hill tops or visit our wildlife hide where you can observe pine martens. Some people take the opportunity to swim in the pool above Dundreggan Lodge or in the River Moriston if it's warm enough!
You could also visit the Loch Ness visitor centre in nearby Drumnadrochit, including the Nessie exhibition, or the famous Urquhart Castle is only 16 miles away and boat trips on the loch run from nearby Fort Augustus (local buses available). If you enjoy hiking, there are various Munros (mountain peaks over 3,000 feet in elevation) in the area.
Please note that the day off is also a day off for the leaders of the week. The minibus may sometimes be available for use as a group (cost to be covered by volunteers) but you may need to rely on local transport to reach some of these locations.
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George Monbiot, Guardian Columnist and author
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