CONSTRUCTION is to begin on the world’s first rewilding centre in early 2021 after the Highland Council granted planning permission to a conservation charity.
Trees for Life submitted the application to the Highland Council on June 22 to turn their 10,000 acre estate in Glenmoriston in the Scottish Highlands in a re-wilding centre.
Highland Council granted planning permission in principle for the centre in April 2019. Construction should begin in early 2021, with the centre opening in 2022.
The project was only made possible after receiving £2 million support from the national Lottery Heritage Fund.
The charity is seeking more funding to ensure the centre can be constructed on schedule in 2021 for a 2022 opening.
Feedback from an extensive community consultation – which overwhelmingly supported the project – has been incorporated into the plans. Inverness-based Threesixty Architecture has led the design team for the centre.
The conservation charity expects the pioneering project to welcome 50,000 visitors annually showcasing the benefits or re-wilding and working with nature.
It will also see a boost to the rural economy as it creates at least 15 new local jobs at its estate in Glenmoriston between Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye.
To fit in with the landscape, the building’s design has been inspired by local Gaelic heritage and history, and by the endangered Caledonian Forest.
It will have verticals representing trees, changing light to reflect how light plays in woodlands, and materials and colours conjuring up bracken and forest bark.
The new rewilding centre will have a Gaelic bothy to highlight local history and heritage, and there will be spaces for learning and events.
The building will act as a gateway to the forest and wild outdoors, where there will be fully accessible trails and more adventurous walks.
Family-friendly features where people can learn, play and relax will include a Squirrel Wood forest play area, and a wildlife pond for dipping.
An accessible 20-bed accommodation space will be constructed on the site of an original lodge, enabling people – including students and researchers – to have longer stays at the acclaimed rewilding estate.
Trees for Life’s Chief Executive, Steve Micklewright, said:“Dundreggan Rewilding Centre will be a place for people from all walks of life to rewild themselves by exploring and enjoying a remarkable wild landscape in a beautiful Highland glen, and to spend time learning about the area’s unique wildlife and inspiring Gaelic history.”
Trees for Life has been rewilding Dundreggan – including by protecting and expanding fragments of the Caledonian Forest – since its 2008 purchase of the former deer stalking estate. Dundreggan is home to over 4,000 plant and animal species – including some never recorded in the UK before or once feared extinct in Scotland.
Trees for Life is dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands. Its volunteers have established nearly two million native trees at dozens of sites, encouraging wildlife to flourish and helping communities to thrive. See www.treesforlife.org.uk.