Scotland’s reputation as a mecca for wildlife tourists and landscape enthusiasts looks set to receive a welcome boost as Trees for Life joins the thriving European association of rewilding projects. With the conservation charity recently invited to become a member of the European Rewilding Network; placing its tireless efforts to restore the countries unique Caledonian Forest – particularly in Glen Affric and Glenmoriston – firmly on the international map.
The key focus of the ERN is to show how rewilding – defined as the restoration of damaged ecosystems to a more natural state – can benefit economic development via ecotourism, wildlife watching and volunteering opportunities. Trees for Life believes that the benefits of rewilding include further establishing Scotland as a wildlife tourism hotspot and a world leader in the international drive to tackle forest and biodiversity loss. They qualified for membership of the European Rewilding Network through their large-scale restoration of the Caledonian Forest. A habitat characterised by an abundance Scots pine trees – as well as trees such as aspen, willow and birch – the forest is a unique habitat that supports internationally significant species such as Capercaillie and Red Squirrel.
“To have our work saving the Caledonian Forest – Scotland’s equivalent of the Amazonian rainforest – recognized in this way is a major milestone, and highlights its European significance,” said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive.
“As well as sharing knowledge and experience with dozens of organisations, from Portugal to Sweden and from Greece to Ukraine, we’ll be able to promote Scotland’s wild native forests and the country’s inspiring rewilding initiatives to audiences right across Europe.”
Today just one percent of the Caledonian forest’s original area remains; though Trees for Life has already restored large areas in Glen Affric and at the Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston through the planting of over 1.3 million trees and encouraging natural regeneration. The charity’s ambitious new Caledonian Pinewood Recovery Project will take forest restoration to the next level by helping to restore 50 areas of remnant pinewoods – these are mainly made up of ancient 200-year-old ‘Granny’ Scots pines which are dying, and there are no young trees to succeed them. These fragments are in danger of disappearing forever without urgent action.
To find out more about Trees for Life’s award-winning work, visit www.treesforlife.org.uk.
Glen Affric – Grant Willoughby ©