The ground has been broken for what is thought to be the world’s first rewilding centre on a 10,000-acre estate near Loch Ness.
Dundreggan Rewilding Centre will act as a gateway to the forest and wild outdoors with accessible trails, child-friendly forest adventures, a cafe, classrooms, events space and 40-bed accommodation building.
The centre is expected to open to the public in 2022 with Trees For Life, a charity in the Highlands, taking part in the ground-breaking event on Monday.
Laurelin Cummins-Fraser, Dundreggan Rewilding Centre director, said: “The landscape and its ancient connections to Gaelic will encourage people to ‘rewild’ themselves by connecting with nature and exploring the heritage of our Highland-based rewilding centre.
“Guests will be welcomed into the centre to experience rewilding for themselves, whether this is from a casual visit while passing through, to immersive experiences; supporting the concept that we can work with nature rather than against it.
“Scotland, the UK and the wider world need a place where rewilding can be explored, undertaken and shared.
“That is why we want to create the world’s first rewilding centre at Dundreggan, a place where rewilding has been happening since 2008.
“The centre will offer recreational and educational experiences for people of all ages to enjoy the natural landscape and learn about the forest and rewilding with the accommodation building being used for longer immersive experiences, including volunteering and educational trips.
“The full programme of activities is in development and will be made available prior to opening next year.”
The Dundreggan estate sits eight miles from the shores of the famous Loch Ness, on the main road to Skye, and so far has been rewilded by Trees For Life for 13 years.
Plans for the centre have been developed in consultation with the local community and supported with funding from various resources including NatureScot and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Displays and interpretations will feature both English and Gaelic languages.
Nick Halfhide, NatureScot director of nature and climate change, said: “We have no doubt that visitors will find the rewilding centre and Dundreggan wonderful to explore, with ancient Caledonian pinewoods and rich wildlife.
“This special project, part funded by our Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, will help protect and expand Scotland’s nature – work which is crucial at this time as we face the twin threats of biodiversity loss and climate change.”