Alladale river view

Why Scotland is Rewilding

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written by
Emily 2 Niarra Travel
Emily Cadzow

What is Rewilding?

The UN has declared the 2020s as the decade of ecosystems. And Scotland wants to be the world's first rewilding nation, committing to 30% of Scotland’s land and sea to be protected over the next ten years.

Rewilding is a word that has been flying around for a few years now. In Peter Cairns’ (Executive Director for Scotland, The Big Picture) words, “Rewilding is about the way we think; understanding that we are just one species among many, bound together in an intricate web of life that connects us with every other living creature on the planet."

Alladale stag

The ultimate goal of rewilding efforts is to counter the crisis of biodiversity loss and restore healthy, resilient, and sustainable ecosystems that can take care of themselves through natural processes which humans have often disrupted.

The scope can be on a micro and macro level, from individuals letting their garden grow a little wilder making them a haven for pollinating insects and birds, to landscape-scale projects where keystone species such as beavers and wolves are reintroduced after centuries of absence.

The effects can be striking. Closely monitored beaver reintroduction studies in the UK, hunted to extinction 400 years ago, showed them to be ecological engineers. Their dams, lakes, and felled trees create habitats where an abundance and diversity of life can flourish with a marked increase in insect, amphibian, bird, and mammal species. Dams prevent soil eroded from fields from being lost to the sea, improve water quality by filtering nutrients and slow the flow of water helping to ameliorate flooding.

Rewilding is about the way we think; understanding that we are just one species among many, bound together in an intricate web of life that connects us with every other living creature on the planet.
Peter Cairns, Executive Director for Scotland, The Big Picture

By restoring ecosystems to their full potential, we can all enjoy a wilder, richer, and more vibrant natural world. Not only are the benefits to flora and fauna huge, but rewilding Scotland has an enormous positive impact on carbon drawdown, flooding and helps to restore the soil. The rewilding of peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, salt marshes, wetlands, and coastal waters in the UK can all make a significant contribution to carbon sequestration in a natural, sustainable way.

Pine Marten Alladale

Other important impacts that rewilding Scotland will bring are the wide range of economic, public health, and social benefits to communities. Simply being in nature improves mental health while job opportunities can arise from the restoration process, from tree planting to creating tourism businesses to cater to the visitors coming to see and experience the wildlife and wilderness that is returning. On the storied Isle of Mull, off Scotland's west coast, reintroduced white-tailed eagles tripled tourism revenue with birders flocking to see the impressive raptor in the wild.

Federico di dio photography white tailed eagle unsplash

Another notable project that is already demonstrating the benefits of rewilding is Cairngorm Connect. This project is restoring 600 square kilometers of the Cairngorm National Park, the area is a mixture of forests, lochs, rivers and peatlands. Threatened species including the hen harrier and capercaillie are already making a comeback at the start of a 200-year vision.

Choose to visit Scotland with Niarra Travel, and we will arrange a personalized trip to places such as Alladale Wilderness Reserve – one of the first rewilding estates – supporting and learning all about pioneering work across Scotland.

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