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WATCH: Pioneering rewilding project exceeds 50 per cent of crowdfunding target in less than three weeks

By Niall Harkiss

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Highlands Rewilding, Scotland’s 2000-acre project focused on combating biodiversity collapse and climate meltdown, has raised over 50 per cent of its £500,000 target in less than three weeks.

The crowdfund for mass ownership of the company launched on December 1 and runs until the end of February. Exactly £285,890 (57.18 per cent) has been raised from 239 investors, 98 of which are Scottish, so far.

Beldorney Estate
Beldorney Estate

The milestone comes as the historic 30x30 deal at COP15 has been agreed, with 196 countries agreeing to a deal which aims to conserve 30 per cent of the land, freshwater and ocean globally by 2030.

The Highlands Rewilding project intends to serve as an example of how citizen projects can help support the Scottish government reach their ambitious climate and biodiversity targets which are set on reversing nature loss by 2030 and substantially restoring and regenerating biodiversity by 2045.

Highlands Rewilding’s crowdfund encourages ‘citizen rewilders’ - those with a passion in the fight against climate meltdown and biodiversity collapse - to invest as little as £50 and anything up to £200,000.

Dr Jeremy Leggett, founder and CEO of Highlands Rewilding, said: “We have been blown away and so encouraged by the support we have received from the nation’s citizen rewilders so far and thank every single investor for their support. Every pound really does count in enabling us to grow and expand the Highlands Rewilding model. We hope many more Scots will choose to join us in our quest.

Jeremy Leggett
Jeremy Leggett

“There has never been a more pivotal time for the nation to consider how nature recovery can support our world’s future, especially as the thirty-by-thirty deal has been reached at COP15 which makes a giant leap in conserving our land, freshwater and ocean globally. It acts as a hopeful exemplar of how grassroots projects, like Highlands Rewilding, can help governments meet their targets to safeguard vital ecosystems by the end of the decade.”

The ambitious Highlands Rewilding project, which stretches over 2,000 acres across two estates in the Scottish Highlands – Bunloit Estate in Inverness and Beldorney Estate in Aberdeenshire – is pursuing a business model to scale nature recovery like no other.

As the project’s crowdfund and fundraising efforts continue, the Highlands Rewilding science team have released their second Natural Capital Report which uses cutting-edge methods, from satellites, to drone-based and ground-based sensors, eDNA analysis, and detailed observational work by ecologists, to assess biodiversity habitats and carbon stocks. The results give an unprecedented insight into the Bunloit and Beldorney estates, and the methods that can be used to maximise benefits for the environment and the planet’s future prosperity.

Dr Leggett added: “Our Natural Capital Report provides us with a rich source of natural capital data which covers a variety of habitats so that we can better understand where efforts should be concentrated to harness and maximise carbon sources.

“In our continued efforts of producing high-quality, evidence-based data on natural capital quantification, our hope is that our work will begin to feed into the ongoing policymaking process in government to generate the best possible outcomes to support our nation’s long-term climate goals.

“After two and a half years of operations in our start phase, we have a strong and growing team, deep roots in our local communities, and a rapidly expanding core of cutting-edge science. Our intention is to become a world-class open laboratory for natural-capital verification science and demonstrate that natural capital can be grown verifiably for planet, people, and profit, both in wildland and actively managed land.”

It is hoped that £500,000 will be raised through the crowdfund by ‘citizen rewilders’. Investments are also expected from equity investors and financial institutions.

No funding limit has been set for the entirety of the Highlands Rewilding fundraiser, but the organisation is aiming to raise at least eight million plus.

Find out more about the Highlands Rewilding and the crowdfund here: highlandsrewilding.co.uk/crowdfund

A copy of the Natural Capital Report can be downloaded from here: highlandsrewilding.co.uk/research

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