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Dundreggan Centre Cropped

New natural heritage facility opens near Loch Ness

Published: 17/04/2023

The world’s first rewilding centre has been opened in the Highlands that will help more people experience forest restoration, the natural environment and Gaelic culture.

The world’s first rewilding centre has been opened in the Highlands that will help more people experience forest restoration, the natural environment and Gaelic culture.

The Rewilding Centre is located at Dundreggan Estate, Invermoriston by conservation, education and research charity, Trees for Life. The project has secured up to £234,554 Green Jobs Funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The Dundreggan Rewilding Centre in Glenmoriston celebrates rewilding and the region’s rich Gaelic culture. It offers a gateway for visitors to explore the 10,000-acre Dundreggan estate, where Trees for Life is restoring the Caledonian forest and its wildlife.

The centre opened its doors to the public on Saturday 15 April with a celebratory weekend of special events and activities.

Visitors, families and schools will 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.

Displays in English and Gaelic introduce rewilding and the Gaelic language, and a storytelling bothy showcases local history and heritage.

Twenty new jobs have already been created, employing local people, and the facility 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.

The HIE Green Jobs Fund award helped towards the capital costs of construction of the centre building and associated external works.

HIE’s Chief Executive, Stuart Black visited the facility last week. He said:

“It was great to be at the opening of the facility on Thursday. It will create employment and generate income for sectors such as tourism and outdoor education. It’s really good to see the excellent interpretation there, particularly the use of Gaelic, which shows how the language relates to the surrounding landscape. We are pleased to be able to support a project that uses innovation and the quest for net zero to stimulate economic activity in a rural location”.

Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive, said: “For 15 years, Dundreggan has been a beacon for rewilding our landscapes. Now it will be a beacon for rewilding people too.

“This is a place of hope. We want to breathe life into the huge potential of the Highlands to help nature return in a major way – providing people from all walks of life with fantastic experiences while supporting re-peopling, boosting social and economic opportunities, and tackling the climate and nature emergencies.”

A café and events space offer locally sourced food and drink and entertainment areas, while a purpose-built and accessible 40-bedroom accommodation building allows people to stay for longer experiences.

Laurelin Cummins-Fraser, Dundreggan Rewilding Centre Director, said: “Whether a visitor has just an hour for a quick visit or wants to stay with us for an immersive rewilding experience, our centre will welcome people to discover stunning landscapes, unique wildlife and Gaelic culture, while connecting with the wonders of the natural world.

“The Rewilding Centre is embedded in the landscape and the community. Its design is inspired by Gaelic heritage and history, and by the Caledonian forest – with verticals representing trees, changing light to reflect how light plays in woodlands, and materials and colours conjuring up bracken and forest bark. It’s a really special place for people to enjoy.”

Dundreggan is part of Affric Highlands, the UK’s largest rewilding landscape which will potentially cover over 500,000 acres – restoring nature while strengthening land-based livelihoods and creating economic opportunities. Trees for Life launched the Affric Highlands initiative in 2021, in partnership with Rewilding Europe and an initial coalition of communities and landowners.