Trees for Life officially broke ground to mark the beginning of the construction of the world’s first rewilding centre at the 10,000-acre Dundreggan estate near Loch Ness.
The free-to-access Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, the first of its kind in the world, will act as the gateway to the 10,000 acre forest and wild outdoors, 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 and an events space alongside a 40-bed accommodation building, welcoming visitors to discover stunning wild landscapes, learn about unique wildlife and leave inspired to engage with rewilding.
Just eight miles from the shores of Loch Ness and on the main road to Skye, the Dundreggan estate has been rewilded by Trees for Life for 13 years. This has seen the protection and expansion of globally important fragments of Scotland’s Caledonian Forest, golden eagles successfully breeding for the first time in 40 years and populations of other species, such as black grouse, beginning to recover.
The core of the Centre will include displays and interpretation in English and Gaelic with the centre drawing inspiration from the rich Gaelic heritage of the locality and of the wider Highlands.
Laurelin Cummins-Fraser, Dundreggan Rewilding Centre Director, said:
“The landscape and its ancient connections to Gaelic will encourage people to ‘rewild’ themselves by connecting with nature and exploring the heritage of our Highland based Rewilding Centre. Guests will be welcomed into the Centre to experience rewilding for themselves, whether this is from a casual visit while passing through, to immersive experiences; supporting the concept that we can work with nature rather than against it.
“Scotland, the UK and the wider world need a place where rewilding can be explored, undertaken and shared. That is why we want to create the world’s first Rewilding Centre at Dundreggan, a place where rewilding has been happening since 2008.
“The centre will offer recreational and educational experiences for people of all ages to enjoy the natural landscape and learn about the forest and rewilding with the accommodation building being used for longer immersive experiences, including volunteering and educational trips. The full programme of activities is in development and will be made available prior to opening next year.”
The plans for the centre have been developed following consultation with the local community.
The 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.
Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“Through our conversations with National Lottery players, we know that the natural environment is extremely important to them, and the funding for the Trees for Life’s Rewilding Centre at Dundreggan means they can play their part in restoring our incredible native woodlands and natural places. The link to our Gaelic heritage adds another fascinating dimension to this innovative project.
“At The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’re incredibly proud to be playing a role in ensuring our natural heritage is safeguarded for generations to come, helping people connect to nature and discover Scotland’s outstanding landscapes and amazing wildlife.”
Nick Halfhide, NatureScot Director of Nature and Climate Change, added:
“We have no doubt that visitors will find the rewilding centre and Dundreggan wonderful to explore, with ancient Caledonian pinewoods and rich wildlife. This special project, part funded by our Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, will help protect and expand Scotland’s nature – work which is crucial at this time, as we face the twin threats of biodiversity loss and climate change.”