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'Lost world' forest near Loch Ness celebrates 10 years of rewilding

Written by Samantha Lade, Donr

Published on Monday, 1st October 2018

'Lost world' forest near Loch Ness celebrates 10 years of rewilding

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 acclaimed site.

Last Wednesday, the charity's supporters and children from Invergarry Primary School attended a celebration event at the 10,000-acre biodiversity hotspot to the west of Loch Ness. 

They visited Dundreggan's tree nursery, where they squashed rowan berries to release seeds and joined wildlife tours to see conservation in action.

Doug Gilbert, Trees for Life's Ops Manager at Dundreggan, said: '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.

'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.'

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.

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 doesn't bite.

Several species had never been recorded in the UK before or were feared extinct in Scotland.

Trees for Life now employs six people at Dundreggan and – thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund support – an additional five 'Skills for Rewilding' trainees.

Members of the public can volunteer to plant trees at Dundreggan, or to grow future woodlands in the tree nursery.