Affric Highlands to Rewild 500,000 Acres of Scottish Highlands in Ambitious Project

With the rising threat of biodiversity loss, humankind is realizing the potential of rewilding. In a bid to restore nature, Moray-based charity Trees for Life is working with Rewilding Europe, along with 20 landowners and six organizations on a project to rewild about 500,000 acres of the Scottish Highlands.

The area could cover Loch Ness, through the central Highlands to Kintail on the northwest Highlands coast. The Affric Highlands initiative targets to increase connected habitats and species diversity over the proposed area, which includes the Kintail mountain range, and glens Cannich, Moriston and Shiel.

Rewilding is a progressive approach that allows nature to take over and take care of itself, enabling the natural processes to shape land and sea, heal damaged ecosystems, and reinstate degraded landscapes.

The project to rewild the Scottish lands followed three years of consultation, while the work continued to bring more landowners and communities in the loop. Moving further, the plans include planting trees, enhancing river corridors, recover peat bogs and generating eco-friendly farming practices.

Affric Highlands to Rewild 500,000 Acres of Scottish Highlands

Image: Frank Winkler

Similar to the WildEast project in East Anglia, this initiative is a community-led effort, which could be a catalyst for social and economic regeneration.

Alan McDonnell, a conservation manager at Trees for Life, and the project leader said;

This was once a much more peopled landscape that was rich with wildlife and we think we can find new ways to establish that connection again, today. The idea of doing it at scale is that you get a much bigger natural response because you’ve got room for change and dynamism in that landscape.

The biggest challenge for the project is to get locals involved in the initiative as they view the concept of rewilding quite differently. However, native wildlife species are set to benefit from the project, including a range of river species as well as montane species.

Rewilding Europe has helped the project with a £250,000, while the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has given a £200,000 grant. McDonnell will be recruiting three people to work on the project full-time as the practical work on the ground will begin in 2023.

Via: The Guardian

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