Construction of a dedicated rewilding centre in a 10,000 acre estate near Loch Ness has begun.
The Dundreggan complex, thought to be the first of its kind in the world, will act as a gateway to the massive forest and wild area featuring accessible trails, child-friendly adventure routes and more challenging paths for experienced hillwalkers.
Eight miles from the shores of Loch Ness, on the main road to Skye, the Dundreggan estate has been rewilded by volunteer organisation Trees For Life for 13 years.
The work of volunteers has seen the expansion of fragments of Scotland’s ancient 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.
Laurelin Cummins-Fraser, Dundreggan Rewilding Centre director, said: “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 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.”
Nick Halfhide, NatureScot director of nature and climate change, said: “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.”
Dundreggan Rewilding Centre is expected to open to the public in 2022.