A multi-million-pound rewilding project in the Highlands has secured a funding boost of £234,554 to help create new jobs.
The Rewilding Centre is being created at Dundreggan Estate near Fort Augustus by conservation, education and research charity Trees for Life.
The £5.8m facility, which will help more people experience forest restoration, the natural environment and Gaelic culture, was given the Green Jobs Fund investment from Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The money is expected to create up to 13 new full-time equivalent rural green jobs in addition to the existing 8.7.
A central aim of the new centre will be to encourage a wider and more diverse audience to experience the forest and find out more about the natural history and heritage of the Highlands.
It will offer recreational and educational experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy the natural landscape.
The centre is expected to boost the rural economy by providing a new attraction between the east and west coasts and benefit the local community by providing employment opportunities.
The HIE Green Jobs Fund award will help towards the capital costs of construction of the centre building and associated external works.
The announcement has been made as world leaders prepare to gather in Scotland for COP26, the UN conference on tackling climate change.
Carroll Buxton, interim chief executive of HIE, said: “With COP26 taking place in Glasgow next week, it’s great to be able to announce our support for a project that uses innovation and the quest for net-zero to stimulate economic activity.
“This new facility will create employment and generate income for sectors such as tourism and outdoor education, which have been seriously affected by the pandemic.
“There will be benefits for surrounding communities, with an enhanced commercial natural resource, improved biodiversity and a space for people to enjoy. And of course, it will make an important contribution in our region’s transition to a more resource efficient, lower carbon economy.
“I’m very pleased we are able to offer financial support and look forward to seeing the new centre take shape.”
Laurelin Cummins-Fraser, Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Rewilding Centre director, added: “Securing HIE’s support via the Green Jobs Fund represents an important step in our plans to offer learning experiences in rewilding, natural history and Highland heritage.
“We are now one step closer to creating this beacon of hope for the restoration of nature on a large scale across Scotland, tackling climate breakdown, creating green jobs and volunteering opportunities, and reconnecting people with nature.”