The Dundreggan Rewilding Centre in Glenmoriston showcases how large-scale nature recovery can give people inspiring experiences while creating jobs and benefiting rural communities. Offering a gateway to Affric Highlands – the UK’s biggest rewilding landscape – the attraction is aimed at visitors from all walks of life, while boosting jobs and supporting re-peopling of this remote rural area.
Triodos Bank raised £2 million for the rewilding centre in less than 48 hours through a bond offer on its crowdfunding platform in September 2021. With a minimum investment of just £50, over 400 people invested, 8% of whom were based in Scotland. The average investment size was £4,800.
Whitni Thomas, head of corporate finance at Triodos Bank UK, said: “The speed at which the raise was achieved shows how passionate people are about protecting the UK’s wildlife and gave them the opportunity to align their money with a love for nature. Trees for Life is doing such important work to tackle the nature and climate emergencies here in the Highlands and we’re excited to see the visitor centre officially launch. As a sustainable bank, we’re keen to support more projects like these.”
Dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands, Trees for Life’s vision is of a revitalised Caledonian forest, providing space for wildlife to flourish and communities to thrive. The centre will open its doors fully to the public on Saturday 15 April.
“For 15 years, Dundreggan has been a beacon for rewilding our landscapes. Now it will be a beacon for rewilding people too,” said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive.
“Our conversations with Triodos felt different to those we had with other potential financers. We didn’t need to explain what we were about, because the importance of the project was immediately recognised and understood. As our financial plans developed Triodos were really supportive, helping us to shape the business model needed to make the project vision a reality, grounding our idea in pragmatism and making sure our goals were attainable.”
Visitors, families, schools and those with specific needs will be able to enjoy year-round events and experiences, discover how rewilding benefits wildlife such as golden eagles, red squirrels and wood ants, and learn about Gaelic culture and its deep connections to the landscape.
A welcome area features a stunning tree sculpture of reclaimed metal, created by Scottish artist Helen Denerley. The centre offers a gateway to the wild forest, with fully accessible trails, child-friendly forest experiences, and more adventurous walks. Displays in English and Gaelic introduce rewilding and the Gaelic language, while a storytelling bothy showcases local history and heritage.
A café and events space offer locally sourced food and drink and entertainment areas, with a purpose-built and accessible 40-bedroom accommodation building allowing people to stay for longer experiences.
Twenty new jobs have already been created, employing local people, and the centre will generate an ongoing economic boost for local suppliers and services. The period of design and construction has already involved local businesses from architects to plumbers.
Income generated by the centre will support Trees for Life in its aim to rewild the Scottish Highlands.
In addition to the crowdfunding raise from Triodos Bank plus support from individual donors, Trees for Life also received funding for the centre from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, which is led by NatureScot and funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); the National Lottery Heritage Fund; Bòrd na Gàidhlig; SSE Sustainable Development Fund; Audemars Piguet Foundation; FERN Community Funds; and Garfield Weston Foundation.
For more details on the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre, visit visitdundreggan.co.uk.