The 400,000-dollar grant will fund key activities in the Affric Highland rewilding landscape and support development of a new financial tool to boost rewilding.
Rewilding Europe is to receive a grant of 400,000 dollars from multinational delivery services company FedEx. The money will be used to fund rewilding in the Affric Highlands rewilding landscape in Scotland, and to support the development of a carbon credit standard for rewilding across Europe.
“We are deeply grateful to FedEx for their generosity,” says Affric Highlands team leader Stephanie Kiel from Trees for Life. “Rewilding the Affric Highlands landscape will deliver wide-ranging benefits to both the nature and people of the area and help to tackle the climate and nature emergencies. This grant will help us to demonstrate the huge rewilding potential of this special part of Scotland.”
Towards a wilder Scottish Highlands
Most of the new grant will be used to fund rewilding interventions in the Affric Highlands rewilding landscape, an ambitious community-driven rewilding initiative stretching from Loch Ness in the east of the central Highlands across to Kintail in the west – taking in Glens Cannich, Affric, Moriston and Shiel.
The 30-year rewilding initiative is the biggest in the UK. It involves a broad coalition of local landowners and communities who are working together to enhance biodiversity, provide new economic opportunities, and address climate change.
Rewilding efforts will see bare hillsides slowly return to woodland once again, while efforts are underway to re-establish montane scrub and increase natural grazing. Through rewetting, peatlands will be restored to the vibrant, carbon and water-storing ecosystems they once were.
Wildlife set to benefit includes golden eagles, red grouse, short-eared owls, mountain hares, and river species such as salmon, trout, ospreys and otters. The Affric Highlands emblem is the Scottish wildcat – it is hoped that rewilding efforts will support efforts to help save this iconic species from extinction.
Local communities are a central part of the Affric Highlands rewilding vision. Nature-positive farming methods are being discussed with local farmers and crofters to create beneficial change in the landscape and support the production of high-quality local food.
Educational initiatives are promoting rewilding, while wildlife comeback is supporting the development of a local nature-based economy that provides jobs and income on a growing scale. The world’s first rewilding centre will open to the public here in 2023, at Trees for Life’s acclaimed Dundreggan rewilding estate near Loch Ness.
Rewilding credit development
There is now an urgent need to scale up rewilding, to ensure that it can deliver game-changing impact over the next decade. One of the ways that this scaling up could be financed is by providing investment opportunities to organisations that not only want to help address climate breakdown through carbon capture, but to invest in nature recovery and biodiversity enhancement as well.
While the overall concept is similar to some carbon credit schemes, rewilding credits would differ in that its primary focus is to facilitate the restoration of natural habitats in line with rewilding principles. In addition to facilitating higher levels of carbon capture, such restoration would generate a range of other co-benefits, such as increased biodiversity, clean air, and better health and wellbeing in rural communities.
By 2030, Rewilding Europe wants to see this financing approach established as an important tool for unlocking private sector finance – finance that will support rewilding at a significant and measurable scale within and outside our rewilding landscapes. This is part of our strategic plan for the period 2021-2030. To this end, part of the FedEx grant will be used to fund credit co-development with multiple partners, with the Affric Highlands acting as a main pilot area. Going forwards, other pilot areas are likely to include the Central Apennines, Greater Côa Valley and Oder Delta rewilding landscapes.
“By supporting rewilding, we want to strengthen the connection between carbon capture as a concept and natural solutions on the ground,” says David Canavan, Chief Operating Officer of FedEx Express Europe. “Initiatives such as the Affric Highlands are not only demonstrating the ecological and socio-economic benefits of rewilding, but working to connect landowners passionate about nature recovery with new and alternative sources of income.”
Partner with us
Funding for rewilding is now on the rise as more and more businesses, investment institutions and philanthropic foundations take financial decisions that help to restore nature in a holistic way.
Rewilding Europe is always looking to collaborate with organisations, institutions, foundations and companies. There are many ways to get involved with rewilding, support the growth of the rewilding movement, and help Rewilding Europe to scale up rewilding across the continent.