News Round-Up

More Scottish landowners unite to save Scotland’s wildlife

Increasing numbers of Scottish landowners are joining a chain of rewilding projects to tackle the nature and climate emergencies, and create new economic opportunities for rural communities.

The Northwoods Rewilding Network is bringing together a diverse group of farms, estates, crofts and community lands, and has more than doubled in size to 28 land partners since its April launch.

The sites now cover more than 7,000 acres between them, and Northwoods aims to grow to at least 10,000 acres within two years.

Here on the River Feshie in the southern Cairngorms, grazing pressure has been significantly reduced, allowing natural river processes to take hold. The regeneration of native trees on previously exposed shingle bars has created myriad channels for young fish, reduced erosion by binding the gravelly riverbanks, and slowed the flow of water to minimise downstream flood risk. Credit: © scotlandbigpicture.com

Operated by rewilding charity SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, Northwoods was created in response to a growing number of enquiries from landowners keen to contribute to Scotland’s role in reversing global nature loss and tackling climate breakdown, but who needed more knowledge and resources.

Partnering with small and medium-sized landholdings of 50-1,000 acres, Northwoods is creating a tapestry of nature recovery ‘stepping-stones’ across the landscape, with tailored support being offered to farmers, landowners and land managers.

Argaty Red Kites near Stirling is well known for its daily kite feeding sessions, where up to 60 of these majestic raptors can gather to feed. Beyond this avian spectacle, Argaty is keen to demonstrate that the principles of rewilding can sit side by side with traditional food production. Credit: © scotlandbigpicture.com

Most rewilding activity in Scotland is presently limited to large estates and landscape-scale projects. Outside of these initiatives, the challenge of restoring nature and connecting habitats remains. 

“Northwoods is helping a much wider range of land managers play a bigger role in restoring and connecting nature-rich habitats,” said James Nairne, Northwoods’ Project Manager. 

“The levels of interest show that rewilding is increasingly seen as an important way of helping Scotland’s land and seas recover, and delivering a range of positive outcomes for nature and people.”

Some Northwoods partners already operate successful nature tourism enterprises, like here at Ballintean in the Cairngorms, where visitors can enjoy watching wildlife right outside the door. Credit: © scotlandbigpicture.com

Research has estimated that only 29 countries out of 218 have lost more biodiversity than the UK, with Scotland faring only slightly better than the UK average.

Rewilding is the large-scale restoration of nature, and goes beyond protecting fragments of nature now left. It restores vibrant living systems across woodlands, peatlands, wetlands, rivers, and at sea, and offers new opportunities for farmers on marginal land. 

For more information and a list of Northwoods members, see scotlandbigpicture.com.

Header image: Ardura­ oak woodland: Ardura is a community forest covering around 500 acres on the Isle of Mull. Remnants of Scotland’s once-vast rainforest hang on here and future plans are focused around extracting the non-native conifers on site and replacing them with holly, oak and other native species. Children from the local school are each given a tree to plant in the forest, creating a life-long link with the site and engendering a sense of stewardship. Credit: © scotlandbigpicture.com.