22 Feb World’s first rewilding centre near Loch Ness
Exciting things are happening at Dundreggan, the flagship rewilding estate of Trees for Life, in Glenmoriston. Construction of the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre is scheduled to begin in April, after three years of planning and development.
The new Rewilding Centre will be the first of its kind and enable Trees for Life to welcome a larger, more diverse audience to Dundreggan, serving as a gateway to the restored landscape there, as well as wider conservation initiatives. Trees for Life have been rewilding the estate since 2008 and it is now seen as an exemplar of ecological restoration where nature is diverse and thriving. In 2020, a pair of golden eagles successfully bred there for the first time in 40 years. Over 60,000 rare and hard-to-grow trees are propagated at the nursery there each year, for planting at Dundreggan and other sites through the Highlands. It is also a base for Trees for Life volunteer activities, including Conservation Weeks.
Dundreggan is just eight miles from Loch Ness and along a main road to Skye, yet few people visit the 10,000-acre estate because of inadequate facilities or perhaps because they are unaware it is there. Trees for Life want to change that; the charity believe now is the time to engage more people with Dundreggan, with rewilding, and with the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
The Rewilding Centre will offer a range of experiences to visitors through its educational and presentation spaces, café and interpretation both indoors and outdoors. Gaelic will be a focus of the interpretation, highlighting the ancient, rich connection the language and culture have to the landscape. A dedicated space within the building, the Gaelic resource centre, will offer a place for deeper learning, storytelling and events.
Outside, improvements will be made to the existing trails to make the landscape more accessible for all. A dipping pond and children’s forest experience, along with a full program of outdoor activities, will provide opportunity for all ages and ability to explore. Encouraging people to connect with nature, or ‘rewild’ themselves, has many benefits to their wellbeing- physically, mentally, and socially. Trees for Life believe all should have access to those benefits and the Rewilding Centre will increase capacity to do so.
A separate 40-bed accommodation building will facilitate more immersive experiences for groups and individuals taking part in activity at the Centre or on the estate.
The Rewilding Centre will provide socio-economic benefit to the surrounding communities, through creation of jobs, increased amenities and a draw that encourages tourists to spend more time and money in the area. Community consultation has been an important piece of development work, to ensure feedback from residents is considered and the Centre serves as a resource for the communities nearby. Trees for Life will continue these community engagement efforts throughout construction and operation of the Centre.
All visitors, whether community or school groups, residents or tourists will be given opportunity to experience the natural and cultural heritage at Dundreggan in different ways that are best suited to them. The Rewilding Centre and its programming are being designed to allow for discovery and learning so that people leave inspired to engage with rewilding. It will encourage the idea that people can work with nature, rather than against it, so that it becomes the norm across a diverse audience. And both people and nature will benefit.
Trees for Life look forward to welcoming all to the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre next year.