Another milestone in our Rewilding journey at Dundreggan

1st December 2016, by Karen Mitchell

It was a momentous day on the 30th November 2016 when we closed the gate on a new exclosure at our Dundreggan Conservation Estate, watched over as we did so by two golden eagles.

The fencing team's Hagglund All Terrain
Vehicle dwarfed by the landscape of Allt

The area which is now protected from deer grazing is called Allt Ruadh, Gaelic for The Red Burn and is 178 hectares in size. An international rugby pitch is roughly one hectare so imagine 178 rugby pitches and you will have some idea of the scale of the project. Within three to four years we expect to have around 250,000 native trees thriving here, protected from damaging deer grazing and growing from a mixture of planting and natural regeneration.
We've already started the planting in ‘mounds’. Mounding involves using a digging machine to turn over a layer of soil to give enough substrate to plant in. The mounds are careful arranged on the hillside in order to help ensure our planting is as naturalistic as possible. The mounds look a little rough to begin with but will soon grow over.
For more information about why we fence, read our Deer Management Policy. In the long term we hope to be able to take down fences when deer densities in the surrounding area are low enough to allow the forest to continue to regenerate naturally. In this case, the fence was funded by a grant from the Scottish Rural Development Programme.
One of our volunteers planting a rowan
in a mound at Allt Ruadh
This is an exciting milestone in our journey to rewild Dundreggan. Once the trees return we can expect a boom in biodiversity as woodland-dependent wildlife, including different species of moss, lichen, orchids, fungi, ants, insects and other creatures find a home there. Red squirrels, Scottish crossbills and perhaps eventually wildcats could also benefit.
If you’d like to help restore wild, native forest to this area you can! Buy a tree certificate or a tree planter gift card and we’ll plant a tree for you, or come along on one of our Rewilding Dundreggan volunteering Conservation Weeks in 2017 and help put the trees in the ground.

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