Restoring the Caledonian Forest

  • Country:
    UK, Scotland
  • Start year:
  • Location:
    Glen Affric amd Glenmoriston
  • Size (ha):
  • Area Type:
    UK, Scotland
  • Type of protection:
    Some protected as National Nature (NNR) Reserve and Special Area for Conservation (SAC)

The Caledonian Forest is a habitat unique to Scotland. It covers just 1% of its former area. Trees for Life is restoring the forest at a landscape scale through excluding browsing deer to allow natural regeneration and planting trees where natural regeneration is not possible.

Iconic landscape in Glen Affric in Highland Scotland


  • Habitat types: Caledonian Forest
  • Keystone species present: Scots pine
  • Fauna (mega) species present: Red deer
  • Vegetation types present: Caledonian Forest, peat bog


  • Description: Trees for Life is working at a landscape scale to restore the Caledonian Forest in the Highlands of Scotland. Characterised by Scots Pine trees, this ecosystem is globally unique, but just 1% of its original area is left. Through managing or excluding browsing animals to allow natural regeneration or tree planting where this is not possible, the forest is spreading along Glen Affric to help create a coast to coast forest and over the tops of mountains to link forest fragments.
  • Aim: To restore more forest in Glen Affric and link it with Glenmoriston to link fragments of forest in neighbouring valleys.
  • Vision: 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.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: 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.
  • Uniqueness: 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.
  • 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.
  • Flagship species: Red deer
  • Other characteristics: Education, High-impact communications, Research


  • 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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