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World’s first rewilding centre to open near Loch Ness

Trees for Life will establish the centre on a 10,000-acre estate in the Highlands after receiving more than £2m in funding.

Trees for Life: The site in the Highlands is set to be transformed. Trees for Life
Trees for Life: The site in the Highlands is set to be transformed.

The world’s first rewilding centre is to open near Loch Ness in the Highlands after receiving more than £2m in funding.

Trees for Life will establish the centre at Dundreggan, the charity’s 10,000-acre estate in Glenmoriston, which is expected to welcome more than 50,000 visitors each year.

It will include displays in English and Gaelic with a cafe, classrooms, a Gaelic resource centre and events space – as well as fully accessible trails and a children’s forest experience area among the outdoor features.

Since the site was purchased in 2008, the charity has planted trees to create a new forest that is home to more than 4000 species of plants and animals.

Transformation: The centre will include displays in English and Gaelic.

Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s chief executive, 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.”

Planning permission in principle was granted by Highland Council in April 2019, and Trees for Life will apply for full planning permission later this year.

Wildlife: A red squirrel leaping onto a log at the estate.

Construction is scheduled to begin early next year, with the centre opening in 2022 and providing at least 15 new jobs in the area.

Support came from The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other sources.

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.”

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