Ben Mor Coigach (c) Scottish Wildlife Trust
working together to achieve a healthy landscape
One of the biggest conservation restoration projects ever attempted in the UK, this partnership scheme is working towards a vision of sustainable, thriving communities living and working in a healthy and resilient environment.
The Scottish uplands are an important and iconic part of Scotland’s landscape, but their beauty can sometimes mask dramatic declines in wildlife and natural habitats, particularly native pine, oak and birch woodlands which have been lost and fragmented over centuries of exploitation.
With the remnants of now rare habitats such as peatbogs and native forests still remaining in isolated parts of the Coigach and Assynt area, there’s still time to restore and reconnect these lost fragments, and in doing so bring benefits to people as well as wildlife.
Ultimately the vision is to create healthy and resilient ecosystems across large areas of Scotland which serve the interests of visitors and local communities alike. Restoration of nature on this scale will create jobs; paths will be built, trees grown and planted, peatlands restored and land actively and sustainably farmed to provide livelihoods as well as places in which nature can thrive. Partnership working is vital to achieving such an ambitious vision and everyone will have a part to play if we are ultimately going to bring about positive change.
By working together to achieve a healthy landscape, communities will also benefit from ‘ecosystem services’ - cleaner water, productive soils, attractive landscapes – whilst also contributing to the storage of carbon through peatland and forest restoration. Thriving wildlife also brings nature-based tourism benefits, currently estimated to be worth £1.4 billion a year to the Scottish economy with plenty of room for growth.
Virtual tour by Mike McFarlane
Scottish Wildlife Trust is working with Forest Research to develop a habitat network model which maps where woodland creation and habitat restoration should be targeted to maximise ecological gains. The restoration and expansion of oceanic birch, hazel and oak woodlands into a connected thread across the landscape is a key objective.
Culag Woods and The Assynt Foundation will be working together to develop a tree nursery at Little Assynt, with a sub-nursery at Glencanisp to provide locally-grown trees from local seed. The scheme will also help crofters and other local land managers make plans and access government grants for tree planting.
The scheme will take wildlife conservation in a new direction looking at the bigger picture of ecosystem-scale conservation and including work which creates economic opportunities for local people. Arts and crafts play a major role in the economy of this fragile area, with many artisans drawing inspiration and raw materials from the land. The project's cultural dimension will include artists in residence, support for the use of Gaelic and a festival of local produce. The importance of the coastline is also recognised, with plans to survey marine resources and research oral history.
Scheme area: 60,000 hectares
Trust reserves within the scheme
This scheme is helping species including...
Golden eagle, black throated diver, Scottish wood ant, wild cat, freshwater pearl mussel and basking shark.
Local landowners, John Muir Trust, Assynt Foundation, Culag Community Woodland Trust, Tanera Mor and Eisgh Brachaidh.
This scheme is also...
Helping wildlife adapt to climate change, storing carbon, providing employment oportunities and skills training.
To find out more, contact:
Tel: 0131 312 7765