‘Lost world’ in the High­lands marks 10 years of rewil­d­ing

The Oban Times - - OUTDOORS -

Con­ser­va­tion char­ity Trees for Life is cel­e­brat­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of its flag­ship Dun­dreg­gan con­ser­va­tion es­tate in Glen­moris­ton – mark­ing a decade of restor­ing the Cale­do­nian for­est at the site.

On Septem­ber 26, the char­ity’s sup­port­ers and chil­dren from In­ver­garry Pri­mary School at­tended a cel­e­bra­tion event at the 10,000acre bio­di­ver­sity hotspot to the west of Loch Ness. They vis­ited Dun­dreg­gan’s tree nurs­ery, where they squashed rowan berries to re­lease seeds, and also joined wildlife tours to see con­ser­va­tion in ac­tion.

‘This first decade of rewil­d­ing at Dun­dreg­gan has been an in­spir­ing suc­cess story. Thanks to hun­dreds of vol­un­teers, 1,200 hectares of new for­est are now grow­ing from val­ley to sum­mit,’ said Doug Gil­bert, Trees for Life’s op­er­a­tions man­ager at Dun­dreg­gan.

‘Th­ese flour­ish­ing wood­lands full of life are help­ing us save the Cale­do­nian for­est – one of the world’s mag­i­cal for­est habi­tats – from be­ing lost for­ever. A re­newed for­est is be­ing cre­ated that will ben­e­fit peo­ple and wildlife for cen­turies to come.’

Trees for Life’s 2008 pur­chase of Dun­dreg­gan for £1.65 mil­lion made it one of the UK’s largest ar­eas of land bought for for­est restora­tion. The for­mer hunt­ing es­tate was al­ready home to an­cient for­est frag­ments, in­clud­ing out­stand­ing ar­eas of ju­niper and dwarf birch.

The char­ity has since been plant­ing half a mil­lion trees at the site, en­sur­ing nat­u­ral re­gen­er­a­tion of wood­lands, and en­cour­ag­ing the re­turn of rare wildlife, plants and in­sects. Vol­un­teers have car­ried out much of this work, in­clud­ing by join­ing pop­u­lar con­ser­va­tion weeks.

At the site’s tree nurs­ery, vol­un­teers can join tree nurs­ery weeks – help­ing a skilled team grow 60,000 na­tive and rare trees each year for plant­ing out on the es­tate and other High­land sites.

Dun­dreg­gan is a bio­di­ver­sity-rich ‘lost world’. Al­most 4,000 plant and an­i­mal species have been iden­ti­fied so far, in­clud­ing unusual species such as the straw­berry spi­der and a midge that does not bite. Sev­eral species had never been recorded in the UK be­fore or were feared ex­tinct in Scot­land.

Half a mil­lion trees have been planted at Dun­dreg­gan, which is now home to straw­berry spi­ders, in­set.

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