In 2021, our crowdfunding customers raised £2 million in less than 48 hours to support charity Trees for Life in the creation of this centre, which is now officially open to the public.
The visitors centre offers a gateway to the UK’s biggest rewilding landscape, the Affric Highlands. It’s an attraction aimed at people from all walks of life, while boosting jobs and supporting re-peopling of this remote rural area.
After attending the centre’s grand opening on 13 April 2023, Whitni Thomas, head of corporate finance, tells us she left feeling inspired and even more connected to nature.
Dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands, Trees for Life’s vision is of a revitalised Caledonian forest, providing space for wildlife to flourish and communities to thrive.
“For 15 years, Dundreggan has been a beacon for rewilding our landscapes. Now it will be a beacon for rewilding people too,” said Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s chief executive.
“Our conversations with Triodos felt different to those we had with other potential financers. We didn’t need to explain what we were about, because the importance of the project was immediately recognised and understood. As our financial plans developed, Triodos were really supportive, helping us to shape the business model needed to make the project vision a reality, grounding our idea in pragmatism and making sure our goals were attainable."
Visitors, families, schools and those with specific needs will be able to enjoy year-round events and experiences. They can discover how rewilding benefits wildlife such as golden eagles, red squirrels and wood ants, and learn about Gaelic culture and its deep connections to the landscape.
A welcome area features a stunning tree sculpture of reclaimed metal, created by Scottish artist Helen Denerley. The centre offers a gateway to the wild forest, with fully accessible trails, child-friendly forest experiences, and more adventurous walks. Displays in English and Gaelic introduce rewilding and the Gaelic language, while a storytelling bothy (a traditional Scottish shelter) showcases local history and heritage.
A café and events space offer locally sourced food and drink and entertainment areas, with a purpose-built and accessible 40-bedroom accommodation building allowing people to stay for longer experiences.
Twenty new jobs have already been created, employing local people, and the centre will generate an ongoing economic boost for local suppliers and services. The period of design and construction has already involved local businesses from architects to plumbers.
Income generated by the centre will support Trees for Life in its aim to rewild the Scottish Highlands.