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£234k Green Jobs Fund award for new natural heritage facility

Published: 28/10/2021

A new £5.8m facility in the Highlands that will help more people experience forest restoration, the natural environment and Gaelic culture, has secured up to £234,554 Green Jobs Fund investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The planned new centre by Trees for Life. Images by Threesixty Architecture courtesy of TFL

The Rewilding Centre is being created at Dundreggan Estate near Fort Augustus by conservation, education and research charity, Trees for Life. It is expected to create up to 13 new full time equivalent rural green jobs in addition to the existing 8.7 at Dundreggan.

A central aim of the new facility will be to encourage a wider and more diverse audience to experience the forest and find out more about the natural history and heritage of the Highlands.

The centre will offer recreational and educational experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy the natural landscape.

It is expected to boost the rural economy by providing a new attraction between the east and west coasts and benefit the local community by providing employment opportunities in the form of local green jobs.

The HIE Green Jobs Fund award will help towards the capital costs of construction of the centre building and associated external works. The investment is particularly timely as world leaders prepare to gather in Scotland for COP26, the UN conference on tackling climate change.

Carroll Buxton, interim chief executive of HIE, said:

“With COP26 taking place in Glasgow next week, it’s great to be able to announce our support for a project that uses innovation and the quest for net zero to stimulate economic activity. This new facility will create employment and generate income for sectors such as tourism and outdoor education, which have been seriously affected by the pandemic.

“There will be benefits for surrounding communities, with an enhanced commercial natural resource, improved biodiversity and a space for people to enjoy. And of course it will make an important contribution in our region’s transition to a more resource efficient, lower carbon economy.

“I’m very pleased we are able to offer financial support and look forward to seeing the new centre take shape.”

Laurelin Cummins-Fraser, Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Rewilding Centre director, added:

"Securing HIE's support via the Green Jobs Fund represents an important step in our plans to offer learning experiences in rewilding, natural history and Highland heritage.  We are now one step closer to creating this beacon of hope for the restoration of nature on a large scale across Scotland, tackling climate breakdown, creating green jobs and volunteering opportunities, and reconnecting people with nature.”

Just Transition Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“Creating new opportunities and green jobs are key priorities for this government, especially in our local communities and the rural economy.

“In addition to the new green jobs Tree for Life are creating, the Rewilding Centre will be a flagship example of rewilding in action and will provide a space for wildlife to flourish and communities to thrive. By providing capital investment, the £100 million Green Jobs Fund will support businesses to reach our net zero targets, something we are all striving towards now, more than ever, as we approach COP26.”

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