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Ambitious plan for rewilding in the Highlands from Loch Ness to the west coast ove rthe next 30 years

By Louise Glen

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Half a million acres of land in the Scottish Highlands are to be rewilded in a 30-year project.

The Affric Highlands scheme led by the Trees for Life charity will see planting from Loch Ness to the west coast.

In a gathering at Glenurquhart Public Hall in Drumnadrochit last night the project was officially welcomed by conservation body Rewilding Europe as the ninth member of its pioneering network.

A total of 20 landowners and six business owners have already signed up to the scheme, representing 25 per cent of the land mass that will eventually make up the project.

From Loch Ness to Kintail, the spread of Affric Highlands will also encompass Glens Cannich, Affric, Moriston and Shiel.

The initiative follows three years of consultation between Rewilding Europe, Trees for Life and local partners and stakeholders.

Steve Micklewright, chief executive of Trees for Life, said: “With Scotland’s rewilding movement growing rapidly – and the Scottish Rewilding Alliance calling for Scotland to become the world’s first Rewilding Nation, with the rewilding of 30 per cent of the country’s land and sea by 2030 – Affric Highlands will take large-scale nature recovery to a new level, providing a catalyst for the local economy at the same time.

“The Highlands have huge potential to help nature to come back and so help people to thrive, and to make a leading contribution to tackling the global climate and nature emergencies.

“We are delighted Affric Highlands is now one of Rewilding Europe’s large rewilding areas that are inspiring hundreds of other rewilding projects across the continent.”

Work is under way to further involve local people, with practical action to connect areas of rewilding land due to begin in 2023.

That is the same year in which Trees for Life’s world-first Rewilding Centre is due to open at Dundreggan above Loch Ness.

This will provide a showcase for ideas and examples of how people and the natural world can live together to the benefit of both, creating jobs and bringing about environmental improvements.

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