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New Trees for Life centre dedicated to rewilding set to be created at Dundreggan


By Federica Stefani


Trees for Life's work is helping to reintroduce many species to the area including the red squirrel. Picture: Mark Hamblin
Trees for Life's work is helping to reintroduce many species to the area including the red squirrel. Picture: Mark Hamblin

A CONSERVATION charity is a step closer to building what it says will be the world’s first centre dedicated to explaining and promoting rewilding after being awarded £2 million in funding.

Trees for Life says it expects to welcome more than 50,000 visitors a year to its 10,000-acre site at Dundreggan near Loch Ness when the centre is completed, acting as a gateway to a variety of trails to encourage people to explore the surrounding landscape and learn more about the local flora and fauna.

The centre was granted planning permission in principle in April last year and Trees for Life will apply for full planning permission later this year, with a view to beginning building in early 2021, ahead of a 2022 opening.

This week Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) announced it is to back the build with £714,000 from its natural and cultural heritage fund. The National Lottery Heritage Fund will commit £783,000 and a further £630,000 will be secured from other sources to enable the core of the centre to be constructed.

Trees for Life revealed in 2018 how it is to plant 10,000 small trees across the area to re-establish a natural habitat that will attract golden eagles, mountain hares and other wildlife.

This week the charity’s chief executive, Steve Micklewright, said: “Dundreggan Rewilding Centre will showcase how rewilding and nature can give people amazing experiences, create jobs and really benefit local communities.

“It will celebrate one of the Highlands’ greatest assets – the wild landscapes and unique wildlife being returned through rewilding.

“Dundreggan has become a beacon of how to rewild a landscape. With this centre, it will become a beacon for rewilding people too.”

The new Rewilding Centre is planned for Trees for Life's estate at Dundreggan, close to Loch Ness.
The new Rewilding Centre is planned for Trees for Life's estate at Dundreggan, close to Loch Ness.

At least 15 new jobs are expected to be created at what could become a major new Highland visitor attraction on the road between Inverness and Skye.

As well as the surrounding trails – which will include wheelchair and child-friendy options – the centre itself will comprise displays and interpretations in English and Gaelic, a café, classrooms and an events space. SNH chief executive Francesca Osowska said: “A key priority for SNH is to help ensure tourism and other sectors benefit from, and invest in, Scotland’s high-quality environment.

“Nature and culture are closely linked in the Highlands and Islands and in many places they are central to the local economy, maintaining rural populations, jobs and skills.”

Trees for Life is now seeking additional funding for the running of the centre, and to help pay for sustainable power and heating options.



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