"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. 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.
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), wild boar, 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 visit our wild boar, which were brought to the estate to aid bracken control and ground disturbance for the purpose of regeneration. We also have a wildlife hide where you can observe pine martens, and many people take the opportunity to swim in the pool above Dundreggan Lodge 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. If you enjoy hiking, the Five Sisters walk at Kintail is popular and 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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