In the wake of increasing global warming, returning to nature is a growing consciousness across the world. But Scotland might be the first ever country to lead the way in rewilding, i.e. rebuilding the original ecosystem of an area with not only greenery but also reintroducing the original wild animals. Through immersive experiences and volunteer programs, several organizations are aiming to make more visitors aware of this movement. Here are a few places you can catch glimpses of and can take part in all the actions.
The Cairngorms National Park is a gem of Scotland in its own right. This 232-square-mile natural terrain is the largest subarctic plateau in Britain. The multi-landowner enterprise has recently embarked on ‘Cairngorms Connect,’ one of the most ambitious rewilding projects in Scotland, with a visionary 200-year plan to reseed the ancient Caledonian pine forest and restore rivers in the area. Here, visitors can take part in rewilding weekends and ranger-led tours to help revive the landscape. For the first time, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland will introduce 20 wildcats in the area next year, as a part of the ongoing rewilding endeavors.
Trees for Life
This environmental charity of Scotland has moved the selective approach of preserving singular species to a landscape-scale broader approach of reigniting original ecological processes. Their ‘Affric Highlands’ vision is a 30-year blueprint project to transform Affric, Glens Cannich, Shiel, and Moriston into a perpetual wilderness refuge. Located in the Central Highlands, this succession of valleys is now home to a reinvigorating landscape with 4,000 native plant and animal species, including mountain hare, roe deer, long-eared bat, water vole, black grouse, and otter. In the 10,000-acre lush estate of Trees for Life, the Dundreggan Rewilding Centre previews this project and helps visitors to engage in experiences, offering rewilding gateways, classrooms, exhibitions, and even a 40-bedded complex for volunteers and researchers.
Alladale Wilderness Reserve
Carrying the traditional legacy of the Highlands, this Victorian-era country sports estate of Scotland once was the sole realm of a few dozen enthusiast deer-stalkers. Located in Sutherland near Inverness, this 23,000-acre plot of the Alladale Wilderness Reserve now welcomes nearly 1,500 annual visitors. This is one of the handfuls of places in Scotland with a vision of reintroducing apex predators like wild wolves to their natural habitats. Another wing of the project is ‘The Willow Center’ in the reserve’s compound, opening in April 2023. This mindfulness retreat with an education center and a vegetarian restaurant could be a major spark for the local economy.