It’s set to be a happy Halloween for the local bat population at Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Rewilding Estate in Glenmoriston near Loch Ness as tree surgeons complete work veteranising an old larch tree which will provide a new roosting spot.
The veteranisation process alters the tree to mimic natural features that would develop when trees are damaged by wind, lightning or decay, creating cracks and holes where wildlife can feed and live. For this larch tree, Inverness-based PALS Tree Services will be cutting a piece from the tree which will be shaped and replaced to create a crack in which bats can safely roost.
Doug Gilbert, Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Manager, said:
“As well as offering a safe space for our population of local bats, which include the brown long-eared bat, Natterer’s bat, soprano pipistrelle, common pipistrelle and Daubenton’s bat, the veteranised tree will also act as a talking point for visitors to our Dundreggan Rewilding Centre when it opens in 2023.
“Modern tree and forest management practices often mean that damaged trees are removed and the deadwood habitat they provide is lost. But such trees and deadwood support various species in addition to bats including woodpeckers which tap for grubs in the rotting trunk, fungi which feed on the decaying wood and so release its nutrients back into the surrounding area, and countless insects.
“One of our most popular community events at Dundreggan has been a bat walk where groups have learnt about our local bats and enjoyed bat-spotting with bat detectors. Bat-spotting and other wildlife watching will be part of the programme of activities on offer at the new Rewilding Centre once it’s open to the public.”
Dundreggan Rewilding Centre is supported with funding from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, led by NatureScot and part funded through the European Regional Development Fund; the National Lottery Heritage Fund; Bòrd na Gàidhlig; SSE Sustainable Development Fund; Audemars Piguet Foundation; FERN Community Funds; and Garfield Weston Foundation.
The free-to-access centre will act as the gateway to the wild outdoors at the acclaimed Trees for Life rewilding estate, where there will be accessible trails, child-friendly forest adventures and more adventurous routes for the avid hillwalker. The centre will feature a cafe, classrooms, an events space and a 40-bed accommodation building – welcoming visitors to discover stunning wild landscapes, learn about unique wildlife and leave inspired to engage with rewilding.
The plans for the centre have been developed following consultation with the local community.
Rewilding is the large-scale restoration of nature, to help tackle the nature, climate and health crises – helping wildlife recover, and benefiting people and local communities.