Trees for Life today announced its successful purchase of the 10,000 acre Dundreggan Estate in Glen Moriston in the Scottish Highlands – one of the largest areas of land in the UK bought for forest restoration.
The £1.65 million deal is the award-winning conservation charity’s most significant and important project to date, and follows more than two years of negotiations.
The Caledonian Forest once covered much of the Highlands but today only one per cent survives. The Dundreggan purchase will allow Trees for Life to plant 500,000 native trees and re-connect the Forest between Glen Moriston and Glen Affric.
Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder and Executive Director, said: “This is a massive step forward in achieving our vision of a renewed Caledonian Forest. It is a huge milestone for us, and we look forward to restoring Dundreggan into a wild landscape that the UK and Scotland can be proud of.”
He added: “We want to thank our members, supporters and funding partners, including the Tubney Trust, who helped raise the money for the purchase. It would not have been possible without them. We look forward to working with neighbouring landowners and the local community to bring real environmental benefits to the area.”
Dundreggan, lying on the north side of Glen Moriston to the west of Loch Ness, is home to declining species such as black grouse and wood ants. It contains areas of ancient woodland, including one of Scotland’s best areas of juniper.
However, much of the estate is open, treeless ground. It has been managed as a traditional sporting estate for many years, and heavy grazing by sheep and deer has prevented the healthy growth of woodland and other natural habitats.
By 2058, Trees for Life’s long-term plan will see Dundreggan restored to a wild landscape of diverse natural forest cover, with the return of species including red squirrel, capercaillie, golden eagle, European beaver and wild boar.
Scientific research and education programmes will be established and most human infrastructure removed. Dundreggan Lodge and a neighbouring cottage will be renovated to a high ecological standard, providing a base for volunteers and educational displays for students, researchers and school children.
Much of the restoration work will be carried out by volunteers. In 2009, 13 Conservation Volunteer Weeks, each involving 10 volunteers, will be held from March onwards. Trees for Life is keen to hear from potential volunteers, whether individuals or companies.
Muriel Gray, broadcaster and Trees for Life patron, said: “This is just the beginning of an important and thrilling project, helping accelerate the return of native species and trees to the landscape where they belong, enriching the countryside and the lives of us all for generations to come. What great news!”
Writer, broadcaster and Trees for Life patron Vanessa Collingridge said: “It’s wonderful news that Dundreggan is now owned by Trees for Life and can be returned to its former forest glory. This is a tremendous breakthrough for the restoration of Scotland’s great Caledonian Forest.”
People can support Trees for Life’s bid to plant 250,000 trees in 2008 and 2009 by having trees or groves planted for themselves or as gifts. The appeal is part of the United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign to address climate change by planting seven billion trees worldwide.
For more information or to support Trees for Life call 0845 458 3506, email trees[.]findhorn.org.
1. Trees for Life aims to restore the Caledonian Forest to an area of 1,500 square kilometres in the Scottish Highlands west of Inverness.
2. Since planting its first trees in 1991 in Glen Affric, Trees for Life has planted over 650,000 trees. Its awards include 1991 UK Conservation Project of the Year and the Millennium Marque in 2000.
3. On World Environment Day 2008 (5 June), Trees for Life pledged to plant 250,000 trees by the end of 2009 as part of the UN Environment Programme’s Billion Tree Campaign. The charity exceeded its 2007 pledge of 100,000 trees by over 9,000 trees.