Trees for Life is a wonderful charity that OBOD is very happy to support. They do a wonderful job in working to rewild the Scottish Highlands. We were delighted to receive a lovely letter from the charity recently giving us an update on the work we have been supporting, especially the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre which is due to open in 2023. Trees for Life explain:
The Rewilding Centre will enable us to welcome a larger, more diverse audience to Dundreggan. We hope it will be a place where people come to discover a landscape restored after centuries of exploitation and leave inspired to engage with rewilding. The new wild landscape and its ancient connections to Gaelic culture will encourage people to ‘rewild’ themselves by connecting with nature and exploring the heritage of the Highlands. It will become a gateway for people to experience rewilding in ways that are best suited to them; from a casual visit while passing through, to immersive experiences, encouraging the idea that we can work with nature rather than against it.
I wanted to write to update you on progress we are making in the creation of the Rewilding Centre at Dundreggan. Your support has enabled us to make good headway and the Centre is rapidly taking shape before our eyes. The Accommodation Block is due for handover by the contractors in December with the Rewilding Centre following close behind in January. This means we are on track to open the Centre in March 2023 and we are now busy working on all of the displays and interpretation that will go into the Centre, including a dramatic ‘welcome tree’ made of recycled metal which is almost complete.
Outside the Centre, a children’s forest experience play area is about to be installed along with a large pond that will be home to wildlife and be used for pond dipping so visitors can discover the bugs and beasties that live in the water. A network of new visitor trails will be completed by Christmas, opening up the wonderful Caledonian forest to visitors of all abilities.
Despite the volatility in the economy and the inflationary pressures that have accompanied that, we are confident that the construction phase of this project will be completed on budget and so we have begun the very detailed planning needed to ensure visitors will have a memorable and enjoyable experience once we are open. This includes lots of technical work on booking systems, testing the working of the Centre with willing visitors and above all recruiting the staff who will bring rewilding alive to visitors and ensure they have a wonderful time.
There is a lot of excitement about the opening of the Rewilding Centre. Marketing will begin during October, but we have already conducted a series of familiarisation trips for tour operators and VisitScotland over the last few months which have received universally positive response. This all bodes well for the successful launch of the Centre next year and we very much you will visit us to see the results of your support for yourself.
Meanwhile, Trees for Life has been busy with its ‘day job’ of Rewilding the Scottish Highlands. Our new Affric Highlands initiative is working with increasing numbers of landowners to support them in rewilding their land and we are close to starting to create 7km of riverside woodlands along important salmon streams in the Highlands. The woodlands will help cast shade over the streams making them more suitable for salmon spawning. We are also about to start a new series of reintroductions of red squirrels to parts of northern Scotland from where they have been lost to increase their range and we are in the process of applying for a licence to reintroduce beavers to Glen Affric where their ‘ecosystem engineering’ will benefit many other types of wildlife.