European Rewilding Network
058

Restoring the Caledonian Forest

Rewilding the forest at a landscape scale

Iconic landscape in Glen Affric in Highland Scotland.
Laurie Campbell
Red squirrels have also been translocated from population strongholds to areas they cannot colonise naturally, helping to secure the future of this iconic forest species in Scotland.
Peter Cairns
With its ancient pines and spectacular mountain scenery, the Caledonian Forest is Scotland’s most iconic landscape.
Laurie Campbell
The Caledonian forest once covered a large part of the Scottish Highlands and takes its name from the Romans, who called Scotland 'Caledonia', meaning 'wooded heights'.
Trees for Life

The Caledonian Forest is recognised as a unique Scottish habitat. Characterised by stands of Scots pine, it includes a diverse range of other trees, including aspen and high altitude willow and birch. The forest supports a population of flora and fauna that is of global significance.

The Trees for Life project is currently engaged in restoring the forest at a landscape scale.  This is being done by excluding browsing deer to allow natural regeneration, and by planting trees where natural regeneration is not possible. Since the project began over 1.5 million trees have been planted, while large areas of Glen Affric and Dundreggan have been restored through natural regeneration, largely by using fencing to temporarily prevent grazing.

Fencing deer out of areas on the periphery of existing remnants of forest allows seedlings to grow naturally to maturity. This is the simplest and best method of regenerating the forest, as it involves the minimum of intervention and allows nature to do most of the work. Once the forest has regenerated, deer populations can be allowed access once again. As in other areas where rewilding is taking place, they will then start to boost local biodiversity through their grazing. Red squirrels have also been translocated from population strongholds to areas they cannot colonise naturally, helping to secure the future of this iconic forest species in Scotland.

Project: Restoring the Caledonian Forest
Region: Glen Affric amd Glenmoriston
Type of protection: Some protected as National Nature (NNR) Reserve and Special Area for Conservation (SAC)
Habitat types: Caledonian Forest
Keystone species: Scots pine
Fauna (mega) species present: Red deer
Aim and vision: To restore more forest in Glen Affric and link it with Glenmoriston to link fragments of forest in neighbouring valleys.
Over 250 years, to restore the Caledonian Forest and all of its component parts, including reintroducing keystone species, so that natural processes can create a rewilded landscape that provides ecological, social and economic benefits.
Uniqueness of the project: Caledonian Forest is recognised as a habitat that is unique to Scotland. Characterised by stands of Scots Pine Trees, it includes a diverse range of other trees, including aspen and high altitude willow and birch, supporting a flora and fauna that is of global significance.
Other activities: Education, High-impact communications, Research
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: A project to achieve coast to coast connection of forest through Glen Affric will have been completed, while forests will also be being connected between valleys north of Loch Ness, with beavers being reintroduced as a keystone species.
Results so far: Over 1.3 million trees have been planted, while large areas of Glen Affric and Dundreggan have been restored through natural regeneration, largely behind fences to prevent grazing by deer. Red squirrels have also been translocated from population strongholds to areas they cannot colonise naturally, helping to secure the future of this iconic forest species in Scotland.
Inspirational value: In a world characterised by a sense of helplessness and disconnection from nature, Trees for Life's work to restore the Caledonian Forest is demonstrating that combined, collaborative human effort can restore a globally unique ecosystem.
Experience you would like to share: Involving volunteers in rewildling, cultivating montane species.
Experience you would like to gain: Developing landscape scale partnerships, species reintroductions.
Map
Country
UK, Scotland
Start year
1993
Size (ha)
12000
Area type
Northern coniferous forest
Natural process
Other
Flagship species
Red deer
Restoring the Caledonian Forest
Iconic landscape in Glen Affric in Highland Scotland.
Laurie Campbell
Red squirrels have also been translocated from population strongholds to areas they cannot colonise naturally, helping to secure the future of this iconic forest species in Scotland.
Peter Cairns
With its ancient pines and spectacular mountain scenery, the Caledonian Forest is Scotland’s most iconic landscape.
Laurie Campbell
The Caledonian forest once covered a large part of the Scottish Highlands and takes its name from the Romans, who called Scotland 'Caledonia', meaning 'wooded heights'.
Trees for Life

The Caledonian Forest is recognised as a unique Scottish habitat. Characterised by stands of Scots pine, it includes a diverse range of other trees, including aspen and high altitude willow and birch. The forest supports a population of flora and fauna that is of global significance.

The Trees for Life project is currently engaged in restoring the forest at a landscape scale.  This is being done by excluding browsing deer to allow natural regeneration, and by planting trees where natural regeneration is not possible. Since the project began over 1.5 million trees have been planted, while large areas of Glen Affric and Dundreggan have been restored through natural regeneration, largely by using fencing to temporarily prevent grazing.

Fencing deer out of areas on the periphery of existing remnants of forest allows seedlings to grow naturally to maturity. This is the simplest and best method of regenerating the forest, as it involves the minimum of intervention and allows nature to do most of the work. Once the forest has regenerated, deer populations can be allowed access once again. As in other areas where rewilding is taking place, they will then start to boost local biodiversity through their grazing. Red squirrels have also been translocated from population strongholds to areas they cannot colonise naturally, helping to secure the future of this iconic forest species in Scotland.

Map
Country
UK, Scotland
Start year
1993
Size (ha)
12000
Area type
Northern coniferous forest
Natural process
Other
Flagship species
Red deer
Specification
Project: Restoring the Caledonian Forest
Region: Glen Affric amd Glenmoriston
Type of protection: Some protected as National Nature (NNR) Reserve and Special Area for Conservation (SAC)
Habitat types: Caledonian Forest
Keystone species: Scots pine
Fauna (mega) species present: Red deer
Description
Aim and vision: To restore more forest in Glen Affric and link it with Glenmoriston to link fragments of forest in neighbouring valleys.
Over 250 years, to restore the Caledonian Forest and all of its component parts, including reintroducing keystone species, so that natural processes can create a rewilded landscape that provides ecological, social and economic benefits.
Uniqueness of the project: Caledonian Forest is recognised as a habitat that is unique to Scotland. Characterised by stands of Scots Pine Trees, it includes a diverse range of other trees, including aspen and high altitude willow and birch, supporting a flora and fauna that is of global significance.
Other activities: Education, High-impact communications, Research
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: A project to achieve coast to coast connection of forest through Glen Affric will have been completed, while forests will also be being connected between valleys north of Loch Ness, with beavers being reintroduced as a keystone species.
Results so far: Over 1.3 million trees have been planted, while large areas of Glen Affric and Dundreggan have been restored through natural regeneration, largely behind fences to prevent grazing by deer. Red squirrels have also been translocated from population strongholds to areas they cannot colonise naturally, helping to secure the future of this iconic forest species in Scotland.
Exchange
Inspirational value: In a world characterised by a sense of helplessness and disconnection from nature, Trees for Life's work to restore the Caledonian Forest is demonstrating that combined, collaborative human effort can restore a globally unique ecosystem.
Experience you would like to share: Involving volunteers in rewildling, cultivating montane species.
Experience you would like to gain: Developing landscape scale partnerships, species reintroductions.
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