WHAT IS THE NORTHWOODS REWILDING NETWORK?

The Northwoods Rewilding Network is a Scotland-wide chain of landholdings committed to nature recovery. Its partners share a vision for an ecologically-restored landscape, where habitats are better connected and species can recover, expand and disperse.

The network is underpinned by an agreed set of core principles, but Northwoods seeks to demonstrate how rewilding can be applied across different scales and settings, and the range of benefits it can drive, for nature, climate and people.

Along the way, we share our partners’ stories and their rewilding actions, to inform and inspire others.

More about Northwoods

Click on the links below for more information about the aims and principles of the network, and what makes Northwoods different from other rewilding initiatives.

Key aims of the network

 

Key aims of the network

  • To increase the area of land committed to rewilding for the benefit of nature, climate and people.
  • To enable effective rewilding actions, grounded in best practice, to deliver positive ecological, environmental and socio-economic outcomes.
  • To demonstrate new models of land management and showcase the successes of our partners, leading to more rewilding actions across different settings.
  • To demonstrate the range of nature-based business opportunities rewilding can drive, promoting it as a viable option for small and medium-sized landowners.
  • To expand knowledge and understanding of the principles and benefits of rewilding.

What makes Northwoods different?

 

What makes Northwoods different?

  • Focused on rewilding in Scotland, drawing on our region-specific knowledge
    The network is focused on Scotland, enabling us to support land partners using our in-depth knowledge of Scottish species and habitats, and our hard-won understanding of the cultural and social context of land use change in Scotland.
  • Limited to medium-sized landholdings, with targeted selection of partners
    Partnership is restricted to medium-sized (usually 50 to 1,000 acre) landholdings. We also consider geographic spread, location in relation to other rewilding activity, and type of land-use when selecting land partners, in order to maximise impact.
  • Supportive land partnerships with commitments on both sides
    Our emphasis is on establishing formal partnerships with land owners and managers who want to commit to rewilding. We require partners to sign up to a set of commitments and principles underpinning the network, and offer a range of supporting activities in return.
  • Tailored, personal support and guidance to achieve the best results
    These formal partnerships allow us to provide support that is responsive to the needs of partners in varied settings, with different aspirations and starting points. We help partners to interpret best practice and make decisions relevant to their situation for optimal results.
  • Showcasing and storytelling at the heart of the network
    We believe passionately in the power of storytelling to influence opinion and bring about change. To help turn the tide for nature recovery in Scotland, we will share the stories and successes of our land partners, and take a wide audience along on their rewilding journeys.

Core rewilding principles

Core rewilding principles

Establishment of new native woodland

MORE NATIVE WOODLAND
Establishing new native woodland and enriching existing woodland.

 
Creation or restoration of peatlands

MORE SPACE FOR WATER
Creating or restoring peatlands, ponds and wetlands.

Naturalisation of watercourses

WILDER RIVERS
Restoring natural processes along watercourses and across flood plains. 

Removal of wildlife migration barriers

JOINED UP HABITATS
Removing wildlife migration barriers and establishing ecological corridors. 

Returning missing native species

RETURN MISSING SPECIES
Reintroducing native species and expanding the range of existing species.

Revitalising natural processes such

LET NATURE LEAD
Encouraging processes such as vegetation succession and predator-prey interactions.

Establishment of natural grazing

REINSTATE NATURAL GRAZING
Using appropriate grazers such as cattle, to replicate the impact of missing herbivores.

Engagement with local

CONNECT WITH COMMUNITIES
Exploring opportunities for recreation, education and employment with local communities. 

Development of diverse

CREATE REWILDING BUSINESS
Developing nature-based enterprise models that work in tandem with ecological recovery.

WHY IS NORTHWOODS NEEDED?

Scotland boasts some of the most inspiring examples of rewilding at a landscape-scale across large estates. However, to address the dual emergencies of climate breakdown and nature loss, rewilding must also be accessible to smaller landholdings, so they can contribute to ecological recovery.

We know from speaking to land managers and community groups across Scotland that despite aspirations to rewild, many feel they lack the knowledge of best practice, or have concerns about funding, long-term sustainability and communications around rewilding. 

Northwoods exists to help its partners overcome these barriers, and in doing so, prove the power of rewilding to restore habitats, recover wildlife populations, mitigate climate change and support rural communities.

20 YEARS FROM NOW...

If nature is allowed to shape and govern the landscape, change can happen surprisingly quickly. We don’t know exactly what the network will look like in 20 years – that will depend on a range of dynamic processes - but the rewilding actions taken by our land partners will undoubtedly catalyse a more vibrant, complex mosaic of habitats supporting greater abundance and diversity of life.

NORTHWOODS LAND PARTNERS

Network partner:

Argaty Red Kites

Location:

Lerrocks Farm, Argaty, Doune, Stirling

Website:

Area committed to rewilding:

400 acres

 

Description:

A livestock farm in south Perthshire consisting of farmland, woodland, hill land and a series of ponds. Lerrocks Farm is a family run business focused on regenerative livestock farming, eco-tourism and sustainable self-catering accommodation. The farm is well-known to wildlife enthusiasts and photographers as the home to the famous Argaty Red Kite centre and for its bird and red squirrel watching hides. It has also been recognised as a Dragonfly Hotspot by the British Dragonfly Society.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

Creating habitat for vulnerable wildlife species, demonstrating the compatibility of rewilding and farming, planting native trees and wildflowers, creating ponds and generally creating suitable habitat to drive wildlife connectivity and the reinstatement of natural processes.

"We are passionately committed to both farming and rewilding, and hope that Argaty can be in the vanguard of both ecological recovery and rural enterprise in the area."

Tom Bowser, co-owner

 

Image credit: Elliot McCandless

Network partner:

Drumadoon Farm

Location:

Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Arran

Area committed to rewilding:

550 acres

 

Description:

Drumadoon Farm is situated on the south western coast of the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde (and Clyde bio-region). It consists of traditional farmland, dramatic coastal cliffs and shoreline, extensive scrub, woodlands and heather moor. With only a small part of the land farmed, it is no longer economically viable for agriculture. The true value of the location lies in its stunning geology, archaeology, historic monuments, nature and wildlife. Most of the land is classified as an SSSI, SPA, or Scheduled Monument, and the surrounding sea is a Marine Protected Area.

The site contains sea caves (including the historic King’s Cave), a 1km long neolithic cursus, Bronze Age hut circles and a large Iron Age hill fort on top of the sea cliffs. Seals and otters are regularly seen along the shoreline, as well as occasional sightings of dolphins and basking sharks. The sea cliffs are an important nesting site for many species of sea birds. The hill and moorland are home to red deer, short-eared owls, buzzards, kestrels and hen harriers, and barn owls live in the farm buildings.

Key Rewilding actions to be undertaken:

Most of the farmland has been left to its own devices for the last 30 years and has started the rewilding process by itself.  The owners plan to cease all use of herbicides and pesticides, remove the last internal fences and manage the upper land by the introduction of free-roaming native cattle. We will encourage greater freedom for natural processes to shape the landscape by replacing the forest plantations with native trees and add water features to benefit wildlife.  Regenerative tourism will be the economic driver of our rewilding plans, with guests being encouraged to switch off from the modern world, reconnect with nature, and participate in our rewilding, archaeological, wildlife and conservation projects.

“Drumadoon offers a unique opportunity to combine rewilding, archaeology and regenerative tourism to showcase how we can rethink and live with nature in a more sustainable way. By ‘taking a step back,’ we want to explore earlier and historic land practices to see if can ‘relearn’ better ways to co-exist in a natural landscape, as well as to inspire others and build new bridges between communities.”

David Bennett, owner

Network partner:

Bamff Wildland

Location:

Bamff Estate, Alyth, Perth & Kinross

Website:

www.bamff.land

Area committed to rewilding:

410 acres

 

Description:

A small estate in north east Perthshire consisting of farmland, woodland, wetland and hill. Bamff has a well-established ecotourism accommodation business. The estate is well-known for its fascinating beaver project and abundant wildlife, which attracts wildlife enthusiasts and experts throughout the year.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

The replacement of sheep with native breeds of pigs, cattle and ponies; the removal of internal livestock fences; digging ponds and scrapes for wetland birds : planting native trees, thorny scrub and wildflowers; removing non-native species, creating habitat for vulnerable wildlife species, and generally extending and connecting biological corridors to facilitate the reinstatement of natural processes.

Watch our intrepid team of nest builders install a treetop platform for ospreys > 

 

"With eighteen years of experience with beavers, we aim to be at the forefront of nature recovery in Scotland. Rewilding on a modest budget and working with people - through science, recreation, education and art - to share and communicate the exciting things that happen when nature is set free to flourish again."

Sophie Ramsay, Wild Land Manager, Bamff

Network partner:

Comrie Croft

Location:

Comrie, Perth & Kinross

Website:

www.comriecroft.com

Area committed to rewilding:

213 acres

 

Description:

Comrie Croft has a commanding view overlooking upper Strathearn. The site was previously a livestock farm and a commercial conifer plantation. Now its upper ground is a mosaic of heather and scots pine, oak and birch woodlands. Comrie Croft is home to one of Scotland's leading nature-based tourism businesses, focused around mountain biking and eco-camping. The site also features permaculture crofting, regenerative farming and several thriving community enterprise ventures.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

Assist woodland and wildlife recovery across the site through tree planting and the selective removal of non-native species - while simultaneously highlighting the importance of integrating people into a rewilded landscape by continuing to demonstrate successful nature-based tourism.

“Comrie Croft aims to become a model for rural regeneration. A rich natural environment  should include people, homes, recreation and businesses as an integral part. It’s great to be part of a network that can help us do that.”

Andrew Donaldson, Director

Network partner:

Ballintean

Location:

Glenfeshie, Kingussie, Highland

Website:

www.ballintean.co.uk

Area committed to rewilding:

120 acres

 

Description:

Ballintean is a former farm situated on the banks of the River Feshie in the heart of the Cairngorms. The site began its rewilding journey 25 years ago and for the most part, the land is now governed by natural processes with woodland and scrub communities expanding, almost exclusively by natural regeneration. Ballintean presently operates two accommodation units – Ballintean Cottage and Ballintean Mountain Lodge. The business is well established with an enviable occupation record.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

Removal of all remaining redundant internal fences; installation of leaky dams to create new wet woodland areas; introduction of a small number of heavy grazers (cattle/horses) to impact grassland and woodland structure; continued expansion of native woodland and scrub communities, through natural regeneration and working with neighbours to increase habitat restoration in river and surrounding woodlands.

"There’s a huge amount of nature recovery work going on in this part of the Cairngorms and we’re excited to be part of that. It’s a thrill to welcome visitors here and show them the wider landscape, opening their eyes to what is possible and emphasising that their custom makes a valuable contribution to a landscape rich in nature.”

Amanda Flanagan, co-owner

Network partner:

Ballinlaggan

Location:

Carrbridge, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

50 acres

 

Description:

Situated in the fertile floodplain of the River Dulnain in the Cairngorms National Park, this recently acquired land has been farmed for generations, most recently as grazing pasture for sheep. Bordered by the river, an extensive wetland, and both pine and broadleaved woodland, the new habitats being created on the farm have the potential to become important wildlife corridors connecting existing wildlife habitats.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

Removal of intensive sheep grazing; introduce free-roaming, native cattle and ponies; remove internal boundary fencing; cease use of herbicides and pesticides; establish native trees, hedgerows, and scrub; enlarge wetland habitat for wading birds and other wildlife; expand abundance and diversity of wildlife species to improve ecosystems; encourage the re-establishment of natural processes.

Read the story of Ballinlaggan's transformational change >

 

"Having largely ignored the featureless and species-poor grazing pasture that surrounded us, it is really exciting to now have an opportunity to begin to transform this landscape into one that is both ecologically-rich and economically-viable and to showcase that there are alternative approaches to how we produce our food."

Mark Hamblin, owner

 

Network partner:

Kinkell Byre

Location:

St Andrews, Fife

Website:

www.kinkellbyre.com

Area committed to rewilding:

93 acres

Description:

A former livestock and arable farm, now a family-run events venue, in the process of developing an ecotourism accommodation business.  Kinkell Byre is situated on a dramatic cliff top location on the Fife coast close to the historic university town of St Andrews with spectacular views over the Bay.  The rewilding project encompasses both farmland and a unique coastal habitat that is accredited as a site of special scientific interest. 

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Kinkell Byre’s rewilding project aims to expand abundance and diversity of wildlife species; reduce nutrient loading in the soil; introduce free-roaming, native cattle and ponies; establish native trees, hedgerows, and wildflower meadows; enhance water features to benefit wildlife; and encourage greater freedom for natural processes to shape the landscape.

“I’d love to see Kinkell Byre the centre of large, connected network of ecologically rich land. Community participation and education are that heart of our rewilding project, and through attracting visitors, we to hope to benefit the business and encourage other landowners to come on this journey.” 

Rory Fyfe, Owner

Network partner:

Upper Brae of Cultulich Farm

Location:

Aberfeldy, Perth & Kinross

Area committed to rewilding:  

101 acres

Description:  

Upper Brae farm sits high on a hillside with stunning views over Strath Tay. The land consists of a diverse range of woodlands and open pasture that already provide good wildlife habitat.   The land began its rewilding journey over 20 years ago under the stewardship of the elder generation. It is now largely governed by natural processes and requires only very limited intervention.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

The removal of sheep from the property in 2020 and the current focus on conservation grazing with native cattle are likely to increase biodiversity. Light touch restoration actions (such as removal of redundant fencing and additional tree planting) will seek to expand and diversify the existing pasture and woodland mosaics.

“We hope for Upper Brae to continue to provide a home for increasing numbers and a greater diversity of wildlife. We have a head-start in this, thanks to my father’s work, and it will be interesting to see how far we can go. As a family we intend to make the farm part of a viable business as well as providing most, if not all, of our nutritional needs. We will not use any chemicals on the farm. Soil health and insect abundance are top priorities. From there - the rest will follow.”

Duncan Pepper   

Network partner:

Little Drumquharn Farm

Location:

Balfron Station, Stirling

Area committed to rewilding

153 acres

 

Description:

Little Drumquharn farm lies on a prominent meander on the Endrick Water, situated on the edge of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. The habitats on the site are diverse, consisting of parkland pasture, marsh, coniferous and deciduous woodland, extensive hedgerows and riparian meadows. The landholding contains both a Special Area for Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

Encourage the re-establishment of natural processes though native woodland and hedgerow planting; maintaining deadwood in deciduous riparian woodlands to encourage birdlife and saprophytic invertebrates; replacement of intensive sheep grazing with rotational conservation grazing (with pigs, native cattle and possibly ponies); creating wildflower meadows and sowing seed crops for passerine birds; orchard planting and introduction of apiculture; ceasing use of herbicides, pesticides and anthelmintics; and generally taking practical steps to increase wildlife abundance and diversity through kick-starting natural processes.

I grew up in this area and vividly remember fields brimming with wildflowers and teeming with butterflies, bees and grasshoppers. 30 years later those same fields are almost barren of wildlife. My vision for Little Drumquharn is to maximise biodiversity by restoring the landscape and creating habitats to allow wildlife to flourish.”

Julie McCallum, owner

Network partner:

Carbeth Home Farm 

Location:

Balfron, Stirling

Website:

www.carbethhomefarm.co.uk

Area committed to rewilding and regenerative farming:

400 acres 

 

Description:

Carbeth Home Farm lies on the edge of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, fronting the picturesque river Endrick (designated a Special Area of Conservation for two species of lamprey and Atlantic salmon). The farm contains diverse habitats of pasture, mixed woodland and streams and is already home to a wide variety of bird life, including curlews, redshank and oystercatchers.  It has a long heritage as a progressive livestock farm, and in the custody of the current owners, has been a pioneer in soil health recovery.  It is now committed to a new focus on diversification, increasing biodiversity, carbon footprint reduction and community engagement.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

The farm plans to combine the best of regenerative farming and rewilding philosophies to deliver on its aims.  Specific plans include livestock diversification, and the introduction of conservation grazing using pigs and native cattle to manage pasture and woodland; restoring species-rich hay meadows for the benefit of pollinators and wading birds; allowing scrub to develop in areas formerly used for commercial forestry; implementation of an agro-forestry project involving the planting of fruit and nut trees; and working with neighbours to create a biodiversity-rich area in which wildlife can recover and spread. All of this will be undertaken within an overarching ethos of community engagement, specifically in terms of developing opportunities for education and mental health.

Carbeth Home Farm is at a crossroads, with generational, climate and political shifts all  combining to create the conditions for inevitable change. Our goal is to maximise the biodiversity on our farm and to realise its full potential for carbon sequestration, while creating sustainable income and employment. We are excited to be part of this fast growing and hugely positive movement that has community at its heart, and thrilled to be a part of the Northwoods Rewilding Network.

Zoe Shuttleworth

 

Image credit: L Martin

Network partner:

Ardura Community Forest

Location:

Ardura, Craignure, Isle of Mull, Argyll & Bute

Area committed to rewilding:

494 acres

Description:  

Ardura Community Forest lies to the north of the river Lussa, on the east side of Mull. Historically, holly and oak were the predominant species, but much of the woodlands were cleared in the 1960s to make way for non-native commercial plantations. The forest was acquired in 2019 by the Mull and Iona Community Trust on behalf of the local community, who are now focused on ecological restoration and increasing the amenity value of the site.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

An old riparian path running through the forest has recently been cleared and a small parking area created, which has already increased community use of the forest for recreation. Future plans are focused around extracting the non-native conifers and replacing them with holly, oak and other native species. Children from the local school are each given a tree to plant in the forest, creating a life-long link with the site and engendering a sense of stewardship. There are plans in place to create a Forest School and to construct wildlife viewing hides in the woodlands, to further facilitate community access and generally increase ecological connectivity by linking the restored forest with other rewilding projects on Mull.

“We are looking forward to restoring the ancient woodland of “Doir a Chuilinn” (“Grove of the Holly”) to its former glory and extending this remnant of Scotland’s rainforest. By rewilding Ardura we hope to contribute to an increase in biodiversity and to make Mull an even richer wildlife experience.”

Moray Finch, General Manager, Mull and Iona Community Trust

Network partner:

Balmangan Farm

Location:

Borgue, Dumfries & Galloway

Website:

www.solwayviewholidays.co.uk

Area committed to rewilding:

330 acres

 

Description: 

Balmangan is a traditional stock-rearing farm in Kirkcudbrightshire situated on the stunning Solway Coast. Rough pasture predominates and the farm is bordered by an ancient coastal woodland. The coastline on the portion of the land overlooking Ross Bay contains a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  Balmangan has a well-established and award-winning ecotourism camping business, Solway View Holidays.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken:

The land will be given a period of rest after the scheduled removal of sheep and cattle in the second half of 2021. A scaled replacement will take place with native breeds of pig, cattle, and ponies on a regenerative and conservation grazing basis. The landscape and wildlife habitat will be enhanced by the creation of wader scrapes for wetland birds, the planting of native trees, the restoration of hedgerows along the traditional ‘Galloway dykes’, and the creation of wildflower meadows – all to assist nature recovery across the farm.

“Balmangan’s land has been inhabited and farmed from ancient times.  We are the first owner occupiers in over one hundred years but sadly, we have seen a steady decline in wildlife over time. We feel a duty of care to this land and are looking forward to restoring the biodiversity and landscape to help the wildlife thrive again. We’d love to see more birds, bees and trees!”

Neil & Patricia Picken, owners

 

Image credit: A McCormick

Network partner:

Denmarkfield

Location:

Luncarty, Tayside

Area committed to rewilding:

91 acres

 

Description:

Denmarkfield has a majestic view overlooking the river Tay just north of Perth. It lies on the site of an ancient battle that played a key role in shaping medieval Scotland; and clues to its historic past can still be seen in the landscape. Until recently, it operated as a conventional arable farm, but the encroachment of urban infrastructure and housing developments in the area has prompted the owners to pursue a wilder, more nature-centric approach - one that will benefit both people and wildlife. Ellie Corsie, a dedicated rewilding manager, has been appointed to oversee the transition. 

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Existing plans include terminating intensive arable farming; ending the use of agricultural chemicals; exposing field drains to re-establish lost water features (shallow burns and scrapes); creating a mosaic of woodland, scrub and open glades; exploring the use of highland cattle and pigs for soil disturbance and conservation grazing; managing south facing slopes for insects by creating a patchwork of species-rich grasslands, flowering scrub and exposed earth;  and minimizing the use of internal fencing, in order to facilitate wildlife movement. 

“As urban centres expand outward, nature is inevitably squeezed. We want to ensure that nature still has a place – at the least on the land under our custodianship. We are pleased to be able to help the land at Denmarkfield follow a more natural course. This will be our legacy to future generations.” 

Amy Allen, Owner

Network partner:

Old Sauchiemill

Location:

Stirling, Central

Website:

www.howietounheritage.co.uk

Area committed to rewilding:

75 acres

 

Description:

Old Sauchiemill forms part of a former estate located in undulating countryside outside Stirling. The land consists of organically managed pasture, newly planted native woodland, an early nineteenth-century walled garden. At its centre is the historic and listed Howietown Fishery  - once a key location in the development of aquaculture and a site rich in Victorian heritage, now in the guardianship of the Howietoun Heritage and Nature Sanctuary Charitable Trust.  The ponds and surrounding wetlands provide considerable nature recovery potential, but the site also contains abandoned infrastructure which poses a risk to wildlife. Remedial work is now underway to remove all remaining wildlife hazards, to faithfully restore the Victorian heritage of the site and to create a Nature Reserve on the entire Old Sauchiemill land parcel where all fauna and flora can thrive.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Undertaking a full clean-up of all hazardous material, litter and redundant fencing which poses a danger to wildlife; creating new habitat through construction of a ‘stumpery’; planting hedgerows and enriching riparian edges; sowing wildflowers, removing invasive plants, and planting an orchard; restoring the historic walled garden, fishery and mill-building; and generally taking all possible steps to create a secure and species-rich haven for wildlife.

“The current state of the land bears testimony to the neglect of this historically important heritage site and a sad disregard for the well-being of its wildlife. I am determined to put that right - and to ensure that both nature and human heritage are given the respect that they are due.” 

Michelle Pearson, Owner

Network partner:

Berwick Woods

Location:

Aberdeen

Area committed to rewilding:

81 acres

 

Description:

Berwick Woods is a family-run woodland farm situated in rolling countryside to the north of Aberdeen. A no-till market garden (organised on organic permaculture principles) produces fruit and vegetables that are sold in the surrounding area, while a productive conifer forest provides timber resources. The site also contains a stand of mature scots pine, a wildlife-rich pond and it is traversed by several water courses. It is currently home to badgers, buzzards, and red squirrels.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Berwick Woods is on a journey that will see it transition from a largely monoculture commercial plantation to a mixed broadleaf woodland, and at the same time, continue to provide nutritious food.  Broadleaf shelter belts will be created as the existing conifer woodlands are thinned. This will allow for the implementation of agro-forestry involving holistic grazing with pigs, chickens, and possibly native cattle. Broadleaf trees will also be planted along the watercourses, giving the woodland a more natural feel. 

We want to grow good food but in harmony with the environment. It’s not just a question of providing nourishment for people, but we also want to ensure that we address the needs of the land."

Mhairi Player, co-owner

 

Image credit: M Player

Network partner:

Lynamer

Location:

Nethy Bridge, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

500 acres

 

Description:

Lynamer is a former upland farm in the heart of Cairngorms National Park. It borders the Abernethy Forest, part of the Cairngorms Connect landscape scale rewilding project. With a commanding view of Strathspey, Lynamer holds a mosaic of different habitats - upland grassland, heather moor, wet marsh and multi-aged scots pine woodland. These habitats have not been intensively managed for some time and are already forming part of a wildlife-rich corridor expanding outwards from the Cairngorms Connect core.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

The site is well advanced on its rewilding journey and going forward can be managed with a light touch. Current plans involve exploring ways to increase the amount of standing water on the site, introducing conservation grazers, and generally encouraging wildlife - all the while respecting the human heritage and the legacy of previous generations who have lived and worked on the site.

We are conscious of our role as temporary custodians of this fantastic landscape. For the most part we are happy to take a more passive role, letting nature lead, so that we eventually leave Lynamer in a better state than when we found it. Ultimate success for us is a wild landscape which is also productive and populated, where people live and work alongside nature."

Mike Dearman and Carole Butler, Owners

Network partner:

Wester Tullochcurran

Location:

Kirkmichael, Perth & Kinross

Area committed to rewilding:

65 acres

 

Description:

Wester Tullochcurran sits on the west bank of the tumbling River Ardle in northern Perthshire. Riparian alder, birch and willow give way to unimproved meadow above the valley wall, as well as sheep pasture, a small conifer plantation and further birch woodland. There is a lochan, ponds and the remains of a number of ‘ferm toun’ homesteads and field boundaries - illustrating the history of agriculture on the site.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Cessation of intensive sheep grazing and control of generational over-grazing by deer; felling of sitka plantation on ancient woodland site and replanting with mixed native species; exploring the use of pigs to create disturbance, and cattle for “mob grazing”; interplanting broadleaf trees to better balance tree species and age mix; creation of a food forest and other perennial food systems.

We aim to work with natural processes to bolster bio-diversity and ecological complexity while simultaneously building soil and producing food and woodland products sustainably. Through engagement and education, we hope we may inspire others to make similar journeys of their own.”

Miles Goodman, Owner

Network partner:

Feochaig Wood

Location:

Campbelltown, Argyll & Bute

Area committed to rewilding:

97 acres

 

Description:

Feochaig Wood occupies a dramatic clifftop setting on the eastern side of the Kintyre peninsula, looking out to the Isle of Arran and the Ayrshire coast. The commercial conifer plantation that grew on the land was felled almost twenty years ago. Since that time, nature has bounded back, leaving a fantastic mosaic mix of heather, grassland, scots pine, rowan, hazel, and bramble, and in which wildlife is thriving. Along a shady watercourse, a few ancient fern and moss-covered hazels bear testimony to an even earlier era when this coast was home to a rainforest.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Whilst Feochaig Wood is already well-established on its rewilding journey, it offers a valuable opportunity to help the Atlantic rainforest re-emerge on the Mull of Kintyre. A commitment has been made to plant 3000 native broadleaves of local provenance in two previously clear-felled areas.  By opening paths to these locations through the currently impenetrable vegetation, Feochaig's custodians hope to raise awareness of the ecological consequences of land management decisions. Witnessing rewilding in action – even on a small scale – provides opportunities for interaction with nature and can have an important role to play in human health. Other plans include a comprehensive ecological survey and exploring the provision of a low-impact wildlife observation hide. 

“Managing such a special site and helping nudge it towards its full ecological potential is an enormous privilege. It’s my heartfelt wish to see Feochaig Wood make a tangible contribution to its visitors' wellbeing and nurture in future generations an appreciation for the great outdoors."

Jamie Dick-Cleland, conservation/ woodland manager

Network partner:

Auchgoyle Farm

Location:

Millhouse, Argyll & Bute

Website:

www.auchgoylefarm.com

Area committed to rewilding:

80 acres

 

Description:

Auchgoyle Farm is a former dairy farm situated in the south west of the Cowal Peninsula. The land currently consists of semi-improved grassland, relict patches of unimproved species-rich grassland and small patches of woodland (including riparian and ancient woodland). The site now operates as a wildlife-focused farm stay and hill running retreat.   

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Auchgoyle farm was bought by the current owners with the specific intention of implementing an ambitious rewilding project. Planned nature recovery actions include the use of mob grazing with Shetland cattle; establishing an area of silvo-arable cultivation (involving the use of native pigs for soil disturbance); encouraging natural woodland and scrub regeneration; establishing three separate enclosures of broadleaf planting; hedgerow planting to create a network of habitats; restoring meadows; creating wader scrapes and ponds; removing agricultural debris and redundant fencing; and generally enhancing water features for the benefit of wildlife. Native breeds of ponies will also be used to increase habitat heterogeneity. 

“If we can demonstrate the benefits of turning low productivity farmland into a nature-rich habitat, and still make a decent living, we will have achieved our objective."

Katharine and David Lowrie, Owners

 

Image credit: Katharine and David Lowrie

Network partner:

Glenan Wood

Location:

Portavadie, Argyll & Bute

Area committed to rewilding:

365 acres

 

Description:

Glenan wood is a perfect example of Atlantic oak woodland – the temperate (and now rare) rainforest habitat that the once covered much of Scotland’s west coast. It is home to majestic oaks and an abandoned village, and from its higher slopes, there are impressive views of the Kintyre peninsula and the mountains of Arran.   The woodland was purchased from Forestry Commission Scotland in 2016 by Friends of Glenan Wood. A community ranger is now employed to coordinate environmental and heritage activities and maintain the precious woodland habitat. 

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

In common with other surviving parcels of Scotland’ rainforest, the woodland habitat at Glenan is threatened by over-grazing by deer and the proliferation of non-native plant species. Plans exist to create ‘deer exclosures’ – segregated areas where seedlings can successfully grow and the forest understory can recover. Work has also begun to eradicate rhododendron and sitka spruce from within the forest – as well as to explore the multiple community benefits that the woodland can provide. 

“Glenan Wood faces challenges on several fronts, but with appropriate funding, it can become an exemplar of pristine Atlantic oak woodland once again -  and simultaneously provide opportunities for community enterprise and environmental education.”

Rhyddian Knight, Community Woodland Ranger

Network partner:

Carry Farm

Location:

Kames, Argyll & Bute

Area committed to rewilding:

60 acres

Website:

www.carryfarm.co.uk

Description:

Carry Farm sits on an idyllic coastal site on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll. It previously operated as a mixed farm but is now home to an eco-tourism campsite and lodges, a sailing school and a café / art gallery. The land is primarily coastal heath, but the site also features ancient hazel and oak woodland that once formed part of Scotland’s temperate rainforest. Carry farm is home to red squirrels, badgers, and hedgehogs; and otters, herons, oystercatchers and curlews are often seen on the shore.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

The absence intensive agriculture has allowed considerable natural regeneration on the coastal heath – with mosaics of grassland, heather, gorse and birch. Conservation grazing is undertaken with donkeys and a small flock Hebridean sheep. Opportunities exist for creating additional water features on the heath to further enhance biodiversity, facilitating pedestrian access through the ancient woodland, and taking steps to remove invasive plant species.

It’s so rewarding to see our guests enjoying the heath, the shore and the wildlife that we have worked so hard to encourage over the past 20 years. We are delighted with the nature regeneration and we look forward to further increasing the site’s biodiversity in the decade to come."

Derek Andrews and Fiona McPhail, Owners

Network partner:

Cnocan a Chorra

Location:

Ardlamont, Argyll & Bute

Area committed to rewilding:

100 acres

 

Description:

Cnocan a Chorra (which means “little hill of the crane” in gaelic) is a working woodland and market garden at the south western tip of the Cowal peninsula, with impressive views over to the Isle of Arran.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

When it was acquired in 2014, Cnocan a Chorra consisted of heavily grazed pasture and spruce monoculture.  In the pasture zone, there are now plans for conservation grazing, the planting of a forest garden, as well as the establishment of hedges and shelterbelts to protect the market garden, create smaller pasture areas and encourage wildlife.  In the woodland zone, felling of the spruce plantation is now well underway – and it will ultimately by replaced with a diverse mosaic of ponds and leaky dams, grasslands, an augmented natural regeneration area, and mixed productive woodland planting.

“This lifestyle project is focused on woodland regeneration, food production, and wider biodiversity enhancement. We will measure our success by seeing a rich diversity of species and the extent to which we can inspire others to live more holistically with nature.”

Nic Greenall and Mark Bamford, stewards

Network partner:

Beldorney Estate

Location:

Glass, Aberdeenshire

Area committed to rewilding:

862 acres

 

Description:

Beldorney is a small estate on the banks of the River Deveron on the north side of the Grampian mountains. Currently, the land predominantly consists of rolling pasture that has been heavily grazed and compacted. It also features extensive straight-line conifer plantations and some broadleaf woodland.  The focal point of the estate is a 16th century Z-plan castle in the north-east of the site. 

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Rewilding, regenerative agriculture and the creation of sustainable nature-based employment are the key goals at Beldorney. Short-term actions include removing the conifer plantations and ending the intensive livestock grazing. Broadleaf woodlands will be planted widely throughout the estate, including along the riverbank where they will play a key role in improving the habitat for salmonids.  Socio-economic and community benefits will arise through the upgrading of estate buildings and the introduction of regenerative micro-businesses to the site. Current plans for micro-businesses include the production of organic fruit and vegetables, and the development of an accommodation and venue-hire enterprise that will help fund Beldorney’s rewilding plans.

“Enhancing nature goes hand in hand with bringing social and economic benefits to local communities. If we can do all of this at Beldorney, we can help make the case for more extensive rewilding across Scotland."

Jeremy Leggett, Owner

Network partner:

Arkaig Community Forest

Location:

Clunes, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

145 acres

 

Description:

Arkaig Community Forest (ACF) is a charity and a community landowner established in 2014. It owns three separate woodland sites in Lochaber, west of the Great Glen: an oakwood on the shore of Loch Lochy; and two fragments of ancient Caledonian Pinewood and PAWS (Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site) within the Gusach and Glenmallie woodlands – part of the Loch Arkaig Pine Forest on the shores of Loch Arkaig. The area features a reclusive wild boar population, the abandoned township of Ard Nois and a legend of lost Jacobite treasure. In trying to restore their ancient woodlands, ACF works in close co-operation with the Woodland Trust, who own neighbouring areas of woodland. 

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Each of the three woodland parcels pose different nature recovery challenges: diversifying tree species and eradicating non-native rhododendron are the focus in the Clunes oak woods. Deer management and removal of non-native conifers are the key actions anticipated at the two Caledonian Pinewood sites. Additional priorities at the Gusach site include peatland restoration, improving riparian habitat by removing redundant fencing, and facilitating wood ant recolonisation. At Glen Mallie there is an aspiration to work with neighbouring landowners to achieve landscape scale pinewood restoration, to mark deer fences to protect the black grouse population and to consider enrichment planting of species such as juniper, hazel and aspen. 

“These amazing remnants of Caledonian pinewood and ancient woodland have persisted for millenia on this site because they were cherished, valued and used by local people. They have been under severe pressure of various sorts for the past couple of hundred years though, and as a small community group, we recognise the enormous potential for restoration of these special woodlands. We are determined to play our part in making it a better place for both humans and wildlife."

Gary Servant, ACF Community Forester

 

Image credit: Gary Servant

Network partner:

Birchfield / Natural Capital Laboratory

Location:

Whitebridge, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

100 acres

 

Description:

Birchfield is located on the western edge of the Monadliath mountains, in a picturesque glen close to Loch Ness. It contains peatbog, a commercial timber block, and regenerating birch woodland – all looking down on the dark pools of the River Fechlin. It is home to the Natural Capital Laboratory – a partnership between nature NGO, the Lifescape Project, and infrastructure consultants, AECOM. The owners are, in effect, allowing the site to become a technology demonstration testbed which operates at the cutting edge of rewilding. 

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Innovative e-DNA and audio analysis are being used to determine species presence, carbon flux monitors are measuring sequestration rates, and natural capital accounting is being used to attribute financial values to the site’s ecosystem services. Community participation and using nature as a source of inspiration for art also feature within the owners’ plans. More mainstream rewilding actions include: installing a wildlife hide with a connected series of access paths; exploring wetland creation and using leaky dams to increase surface water (to benefit invertebrates and amphibians); extensive planting of broadleaves and scots pine in previously felled areas to increase biodiversity; thinning remaining conifers to allow formation of woodland understorey; excluding deer from areas of the site to assist tree regeneration; undertaking restoration of the peat bog; and reintroducing missing species wherever possible. 

“The world is changing before our eyes, raising lots of difficult questions. Finding answers to those questions is critical for people and nature – and we really hope that Birchfield and the Natural Capital Laboratory can play a part in that, potentially demonstrating the case for more rewilding, both in ecological and financial terms."

Emilia and Roger Leese, Owners

 

Image credit: Chris Coupland (www.instagram.com/chriscouplandphotography)

 

Network partner:

Kinloch Woodlands SCIO         

Location:

Shieldaig, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

1000 acres

Description:

Kinloch Woodlands in Wester Ross has perhaps the most dramatic vista of any Northwoods partner. It borders the ancient Caledonian pine forest that covers the western slopes of Ben Shieldaig and looks across Loch Shieldaig to the Torridon mountains. Operating as a registered charity, Kinloch Woodlands SCIO represents an exemplary model of private / community cooperation. Its success in establishing a new native woodland (by a combination of planting and natural regeneration) is testimony to the merits of effective deer and sheep exclusion in the context of strong community involvement.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

The 1000-acre herbivore exclosure has proved highly successful in helping re-establish native woodlands on the site, and future rewilding actions will largely consist of doing more of the same – maintaining the integrity of the fence perimeter until it can be safely removed, tackling those red deer that do manage to break in and continuing to carry out regular herbivore impact assessments to monitor the browsing pressure of the resident roe population. Community and other walkers will continue to be encouraged to use the area, and interpretation arrangements are being improved.

“Through trial and error, we have developed a system that is bearing fruits in terms of community involvement in native woodland restoration. The long-term aim is to reach the day when the trees of Kinloch Woodlands blend seamlessly with the ancient pinewood on Ben Shieldaig. In the meantime, we will have done our bit if we can share our experience, learn from the experience of others, and with the other Northwoods partners inspire those who are looking to tread similar path."

Trustees of Kinloch Woodlands
Jim Alexander, Helen Collins, Bev Hill, Ruairidh MacLennan, Richard, Claire and David Munday, Mike Robertson, Bob Wilson.

Network partner:

Moormore Woodland

Location:

Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

63 acres

Description:

Moormore Woodland is a 63-acre site of recently felled commercial plantation within the Cairngorms National Park and which once formed part of the Caledonian Pine Forest of Rothiemurchus. From its slightly raised position, it provides a magnificent view of the surrounding Grampian mountains. Surviving ‘granny pines’, bleached by years of light deprivation, are testament to an earlier, less managed landscape.  They provide both inspiration for rewilding and a seed source for the woodland regeneration in the years to come.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

After some initial work to improve the habitat for wildlife (e.g removing a dilapidated deer fence), a hands-off approach, with minimal human intervention, will be the guiding principle at Moormore.  This small parcel of the ancient forest will be allowed to regenerate naturally and entirely at its own pace.

It will be at least a decade, if not two, before the land at Moormore is a functioning natural forest again. As an extension to the high quality neighbouring forest habitat, our ambition is that Moormore will provide a home for red squirrels, wildcats, crested tits and capercaillie once again. Anything that we can do now to create a species-rich woodland for the future is of the utmost importance.”

Duncan Lawson

Network partner:

Evanachan Farm

Location:

Otter Ferry, Argyll & Bute

Area committed to rewilding:

330 acres

Websites:

www.westcoastwellnessuk.com

www.luchiedesigns.com

www.finlandscape.co.uk

 

Description:

Evanachan Farm (pronounced “einiken”) is set on steep hill ground overlooking Loch Fyne. The northern part of the farm consists of birch woodlands and commercial forestry surrounding a Neolithic hill fort, and further south, upland pasture and small broadleaf woodlands can be found in the vicinity of the farmhouse. As well as operating as a functioning family livestock farm, Evanachan is home to art and architecture businesses, a woodland croft, a wellness and yoga enterprise, and a seasonal product business that includes the highly rated Evanachan cheese.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

In recent years, the number of sheep on the farm has been significantly reduced, in part replaced by two Jersey cows (and their dexter-cross offspring) who fulfil a dairy / conservation grazing role. Going forward the owners intend to remove a non-native sitka plantation, expand the planting programme of native broadleaves tree species, and create water features to benefit a wide range of wildlife.

Evanachan is trying to provide livelihoods through variety of creative and productive enterprises that sustainably harness and regenerate the land that we are so fortunate to have stewardship of. The ecological recession that we have witnessed and been part of is both embarrassing and shameful. Although we are just a small cog in the Northwoods network, it offers us all a great opportunity for change and to be part of something far bigger.”

Fiona and Alastair Barge

Network partner:

Muie Croft

Location:

Rogart, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

103 acres

Description:

Muie Croft is situated on historic croft land overlooking the dramatic glacier-shaped form of Strathfleet. The landholding comprises tussocky pasture on the floodplain; grass, bracken and gorse on the strath’s steep slopes; and heather moorland and blanket bog on the high ground. Across the site, exposed granite boulders emerge from the vegetation, and hidden springs form pools and rivulets on the hillsides. The remains of abandoned farmsteads on the site are testament to past generations who worked the land.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Sustainable food production and living in harmony with nature are the owners’ key goals. Specific plans include creating ponds, leaky dams and scrapes to provide habit for invertebrates and waders; raising rare breed cattle and pigs for meat and to regenerate the soil, converting a barn for paying guests, and planting food forests and hedgerows to provide fruit, nuts and berries for guests, owners, livestock and future generations. Native woodland creation on the slopes and the encouragement of willow, beech, birch, blaeberry, raspberry, juniper and other native understory plants is another key aim, which will provide much needed habitat for pollinators and small birds.

We aim to use the practical experience gained in managing big game safari areas in Zambia and Zimbabwe to restore the croft to as natural a state as possible. We want to live in a harmonious ecological balance – with the land providing for our needs, but also an essential home for wildlife.

 Nick and Sarah Greeff 

Network partner:

Glen Nevis Estate

Location:

Fort William, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

900 acres

Description:

Glen Nevis Estate lies alongside the south side of the river in one of Scotland’s most iconic Glens. The landscape is familiar not only to the thousands of hikers who climb the nation’s highest mountain, but to millions more, as the scenic backdrop to many blockbuster films, including Braveheart, Rob Roy and Highlander. The estate retains an element of farming and is operated alongside a substantial holiday business. Conserving nature has been important to the owners for a long time, seen in the planting of hedgerows and copses throughout the glen, the creation of scots pine woodland in one of the glen’s corries and in the conservation grazing of the riverine pastures by a small herd of Highland cattle.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Building on existing actions, the owners are keen to continue to farm the low-lying land in the glen a way that maximises benefit for nature, experimenting with different management and grazing intensities, continuing with regenerative tree planting, and working to create a mosaic of habitats that will help restore species abundance to this special place.

Helping nature fight back is critical, but the farming heritage of the glen is equally important to us. Using rewilding alongside good agricultural practice are the twin means with which we hope to make Glen Nevis more ecologically complete.”

John Cameron, co-owner

Network partner:

Wark Farm

Location:

Cushnie, Aberdeenshire

Website:

www.warkfarm.co.uk/the-farm

Area committed to rewilding:

200 acres

 

Description:

Wark Farm is an upland livestock farm located in rolling countryside a few miles to the east of the Cairngorms National Park boundary. Registered as organic since 2006, it is home to pedigree Belted Galloway cattle and a flock of Hebridean sheep. As well as high quality meat sales, the farm features a holiday accommodation enterprise. Ecological sustainability has been a key guiding principle for many years and the owners are intensely proud of the hedgerows, gorse scrub and extensive wetlands which provide habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Improving the wetland habitat and introducing new, larger areas of standing water is a key short-term priority that will benefit invertebrates, amphibians and wading birds. Plans are also afoot to trial ‘no fence collars’ and a mob-grazing regime for the Galloway cattle - in order introduce variability in the sward length and increase the potential for vegetative abundance. Other rewilding actions include leaving deadwood, expanding wildflower meadows and increasing the quantity and quality of hedgerows on the farm.

Balancing ecological restoration against the pressures of farming can be challenging. We are convinced though that giving back to nature and investing in wildlife habitat is not only the right thing to do but it makes good business sense too."

Laurel Foreman and Sabrina March, co-owners

Network partner:

Torcastle

Location:

Fort William, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

42 acres

Website:

www.torcastlebandbfortwilliam.co.uk

Description:

Between the Caledonian canal and the River Lochy lies Torcastle, a landholding that takes its name from an ancient ruined stronghold of Clan Cameron and where the current owners run a bed & breakfast enterprise. Above the Eas nan Long waterfalls, gorse, heather and regenerating birch trees now dominate what was once a sitka plantation; and further to the north, along a linear depression known as Banquo’s Walk, ancient Scots pines, larches, oaks and beeches reach up and form a magical woodland habitat.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Increasing wildlife abundance and accelerating woodland regeneration have been the key focus for the owners. Natural woodland regeneration has been assisted in part by the site’s insular topography, which seems a natural limitation on deer numbers. In the former commercial plantation, the owners continue to protect new broadleaf saplings wherever possible, although the presence of regenerating sitka remains an ongoing challenge.

We’re lucky to have stewardship of a special piece of land in a stunning location – and to share that with our guests.  The land and its nature has not always been well treated in the past. We want to be sure that we do our bit to help it recover."

Gavin and Ilona Linfield, owner

Network partner:

Rhemore Wild Croft

Location:

Drimnin, Morvern, Highland

Area committed to rewilding:

120 acres

Description:

Rhemore sits close to the shoreline on the Morvern peninsula, looking across the Sound to the Isle of Mull.  Sea eagles, otters and a diverse range of waders are regularly seen at the water’s edge.  The landholding already contains a mosaic of habitats – dense copses of temperate forest with plenty of elm, open woodland of mature oak and upland pasture where Highland-cross cattle graze.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Reducing grazing and browsing impacts to a sustainable level  - which regenerates the surrounding environment -  and expanding the area of open woodland are the two key priorities for the owners. They have removed sheep from most of the croft. Woodland expansion will be achieved through a combination of planting and natural regeneration, by reducing the impact of browsing deer and by targeted livestock grazing. They will also remove redundant fencing and invasive non-native plant species. 

We want to breathe life back into our croft – restoring both the buildings and the surrounding land, making it pay for itself but also delivering on its ecological potential."

Alasdair and Sam Firth, owners

Network partner:

Leadburn Community Woodland

Location:

Between Leadburn and Peebles, Scottish Borders

Area committed to rewilding:

132 acres

Description:

Leadburn Community Woodland is a former forestry plantation that lies on the Esk / Eddleston watershed to the south of the Pentland Hills. Purchased by a community group in 2007 after the bulk of the commercial timber had been extracted, it now provides a diverse mix of habitats, that include ponds, conifer stands, heath, fen, regenerating mixed woodland, and two raised bogs.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Recent activity has focused of the restoration of the most recently acquired raised bog – removing conifers and levelling forestry furrows to rewet the peat and encourage the return of a sphagnum-dominated biome. The outcome of this project will determine if the restoration efforts are to be extended to the original ‘raised bog’, which is at risk of drying out. Path maintenance, broadleaf planting within the existing woodland, and the gradual removal of non-native tree species are other ongoing activities, which are funded in part through the selling of conifers at Christmas time.

The woodland already provides a key community amenity. We want to encourage nature to take its course, with human intervention used sparingly and after due reflection. Our goal is a nature-rich site that can be enjoyed by all who value the natural environment, and which gives inspiration to others to become involved with nature and the environment."

Wendy Cunningham, Chair

Network partner:

Wreaton Farm

Location:

Aboyne, Aberdeenshire

Area committed to rewilding:

92 acres

Description:

Wreaton Farm sits on south-facing slope with panoramic views over the floodplain of the River Dee. The farm buildings are surrounded by fields that in the past have been heavily grazed by livestock. A stream leads through slopes of gorse to a forgotten mill pond, and beyond through marshy glades to large upland pastures, where there is evidence of historic cultivation. The pastures are bordered by old birch woodlands, with abundant fungi and deadwood, and which are home to woodcock and roe deer.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Expanding native woodland on the site is the key priority. This will involve excluding deer where possible, and planting oak, aspen, rowan, and Scots pine, principally on the fields below the farm building. Wildflowers (and in particular orchids) will be encouraged in the pastures and in the woodland understory. Increasing the amount standing water is another area of focus, to be undertaken through new ponds and scrapes, and the removal of decades of farm litter in the small burn that passes through the landholding.

We are lucky to have found such a wonderful project where we can play our part in helping nature recover. That recovery is not going to happen overnight, but we are in for the long haul."

Mark Hilton and David Grilli, owners

Network partner:

Ardnackaig Farm

Location:

Tayvallich, Argyll

Area committed to rewilding:

288 acres

 

Description:

Native Highland cattle graze long-deserted hill land and an area of a recently felled commercial plantation on this site in the Knapdale National Scenic Area - overlooking the Sound of Jura.  Bracken and rushes blanket the hills and valleys every summer and self-sown birch, alder and willow are fast closing over the rotting stumps of plantation trees that were harvested in 2005. The low-intensity, non-selective cattle grazing is already helping to create a more diverse and stable habitat.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Native cattle encourage a mosaic of habitats by grazing, trampling and spreading nutrient-rich dung.  Their meat also provides a commercial opportunity where none would otherwise exist.  Plans are in hand to bring-in native ponies and neutered pigs to further diversify opportunities for wildlife.  Meanwhile efforts continue to remove spruce and rhododendron, and reinstate former access paths which it is hoped will encourage local people and businesses to recognise and realise the potential of their part of Scotland. 

With cattle as the driver, I want to restore some of what’s been lost and prove that its commercially viable to do so.”

David Stewart

Network partner:

Nature at Spott

Location:

Spott, East Lothian

Area committed to rewilding:

180 acres

Description:

Spott lies on a historic site between the seaside town of Dunbar and the Lammermuir hills. The current owners have taken a decision to pursue a nature-focused path to bring ecological benefits. Plans exist to further the steps taken towards eco-friendly farming and to return some of the more marginal land on the site to nature.  The land being returned to nature consists of previously arable fields, surrounded by ageing hedgerows and conifer windbreaks.   

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

The fields in the rewilding zone lend themselves to the creation of biodiversity rich mosaics, consisting of wildflower rich pasture, patches of thorny scrub, and native woodlands. Tentative plans are in hand to introduce low numbers of native cattle and ponies, restore and expand the hedgerows, create new areas of standing water, and take practical steps to increase the biodiversity of the area.

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity to focus on bringing more nature back to this amazing landscape.

Sarah Williams, Owner

Network partner:

Faldonside

Location:

Melrose, Borders

Area committed to rewilding:

50 acres

Description:

The land at Faldonside lies alongside the river Tweed and consists of parkland and mature riparian woodland. Once owned by an eminent Victorian botanist who planted  exotic tree species, Faldonside is now undergoing an ecological revival aimed at bringing back an abundance of native flora and fauna to the site.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

The parkland will be transformed by creating a mosaic of habitats, though planting native trees and hedgerows, the creation of an orchard and the introduction of wildflower patches. The riparian woodland will be enriched by the removal of invasive rhododendron, the introduction of hibernaculae, and the selective planting of poorly represented native tree species.

"Faldonside has enormous charm, but falls short of its biodiversity potential. By giving nature a nudge, we hope to be able to put that right.

Jamie & Karen Blackport, Owners

Network partner:

Deerpark

Location:

Selkirk, Borders

Area committed to rewilding:

60 acres

Description:

The land known as the Deerpark lies on the edge of Selkirk, overlooking a picturesque loch. As the name suggests, it was once used as a calving site for deer destined for the royal hunt in Ettrick Forest. It now consists of grassy slopes that until recently were intensively grazed. These slopes are interspersed with mature trees and the remains of quarries that provided stone for previous generations.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

The creation of a species-rich and diverse woodland habitat is the key focus of rewilding efforts at Deerpark. This will be accompanied by the creation of a Learning zone – where school children, community members and local businesses will be able to participate in ecological knowledge building and help increase the biodiversity of the site.

"This is land with a long history of human use. For this reason, we want to ensure that local participation and community benefit are at the heart of our rewilding efforts.

Karen Blackport, CEO, Bright Green Nature

Network partner:

Strathallan School

Location:

Forgandenny, Tayside

Website:

strathallan.co.uk

Description:

Strathallan School sits in 153 acres of rolling countryside, just south of the River Earn.  Formerly a private estate with an impressive arboretum, the site has served as home to a prestigious educational establishment for over 100 years.  Among the buildings and sports pitches on the estate, 52 acres has been specifically made available for rewilding. The school’s rewilding project provides an opportunity for young people to learn about the practicalities of ecological restoration and its critical role in tackling the twin biodiversity and climate crises. The site is already a haven for wildlife and is particularly notable as a breeding site for hawfinches.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Under the framework provided by the John Muir Award, the school has established an rewilding initiative to encourage its staff and pupils to develop a responsibility for the natural environment. Work to date has focused on restoring a former curling pond as wildlife habitat and removing some of the non-native rhododendrons which are stifling the native vegetation. Future plans include creating educational nature walks, establishing flowering wet meadows, and thinning dense woodland to enhance understory biodiversity.

 

Network partner:

Harestone Moss

Location:

Whitecairns, Aberdeen

Website:

Area committed to rewilding:

68 acres

Description:

Low-lying grasslands and peaty soil are the dominant feature of Harestone Moss, just north of Aberdeen. Intensively farmed for many decades, the site served as a ‘Q-site’ decoy airfield in World War II. It even has its own bomb craters to prove it. Now it is being transformed, the intensity of the farming significantly dialled-back, a truly unique underground glamping enterprise is being created with recycled infrastructure, and nature is being allowed to flourish around restored wetlands.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Harestone Moss aims to showcase small-scale traditional farming, rural enterprise, and rewilding. The key rewilding action is to reverse the effects of 1950’s drainage by creating a series of ponds and wetlands and thereby re-wetting the peat. This is being complemented by introducing native cattle for the purpose of conservation grazing ; removing redundant fencing and agricultural waste; and a creating species-rich hedgerow and woodlands for connectivity on the site’s northern boundary.

"We have an opportunity to create something amazing – a site where visitors can appreciate the restored landscape and the return of wildlife, and where we can earn a living in way that doesn’t harm the land. We hope that by reaching into a simpler, less extreme past, we can simultaneously honour our heritage and create a better future."

Gavin Drummond and Laura Hay

Network partner:

Black Isle Brewery Farm - Old Allangrange

Location:

Munlochy, Black Isle, Highland

Website:

Area committed to rewilding:

130 acres

Description:

Straddling a gently sloping valley on the Black Isle, Old Allangrange is a small oasis where farming goes hand-in-hand with nature recovery. The main enterprise on site is a unique organic brewery which is complemented by a working farm and horticulture business.  Throughout the landholding, the emphasis is firmly on working with both nature and the local community in order to fight biodiversity loss. 

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Extensive woodland creation has already occurred around the farm, and there are opportunities for more broadleaf planting of copses and hedgerows in order to increase connectivity. The owners are also looking to increase the amount of standing water on site through creating more ponds, wetlands and exploring the re-naturalisation of a straightened waterway. 

"At Black Isle we use our farm and brewery to promote a philosophy that places nature and organics at the forefront of what we do. We look forward to working with Northwoods to continue to create a patchwork of varied, biodiverse habitats, and provide further opportunities for environmental education and community outreach."

David Gladwin, owner

Network partner:

South Clunes Farm

Location:

Kirkhill, Inverness, Highland

Website:

Area committed to rewilding:

500 acres

Description:

South Clunes is a special place: a family-run, regenerative livestock farm that lies in a secluded hanging valley to the south of the Beauly Firth and with majestic views of Ben Wyvis. Nature feels close at hand with the farm’s rich mosaic of pasture, hedgerows, extensive gorse scrub, conifer and broadleaf woodlands. The site boasts a dramatic wooded gorge and man-made lochans inhabited by a beaver family. While the sheep and cattle farming remain the principal focus for enterprise, there has been recent diversification into rustic accommodation, outdoor events and farm and wildlife tours.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Improving wildlife connectivity by planting ‘tree alleys’; increasing the amount of standing water on site with new ponds and scrapes; introducing ‘mob grazing’ to enhance grassland biodiversity and durability; wintering cattle in woodland to assist soil disturbance and regeneration; and facilitating natural forest regeneration within the ancient birch woodlands.

"We are passionate about farming with the natural world. We have already shown that biodiversity benefits and good food production must go hand-in-hand. We are keen to show that the correct farm management strategy is the answer to many of the biodiversity issues around us... it's not the cow, it's the how."

Fred Swift

Network partner:

Garth Wood

Location:

Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Area committed to rewilding:

80 acres

Description:

Garth wood lies on steep east facing slope looking down on the River Lyon. It is a former commercial forestry plantation, felled in 2018, and restocked with native broadleaf species and Scots pines. Four ponds have been constructed to make more space for water; a perimeter fence around most of the site protects the new saplings from browsing deer, and outside this, a portion of woodland is being allowed to regenerate naturally.

Key rewilding actions to be undertaken: 

Encouraging a mosaic of woodland and pasture habitats across the site; monitoring and maintaining the newly planted saplings and continuing to encourage natural woodland regeneration; exploring opportunities for additional bodies of standing water; and removing and recycling deer fencing and tree protectors at the earliest opportunity.

"We want this wood to be place where people can come to see what nature can do when it is given a chance."

Emma Kareno and Henning Hoeber

Becoming a Northwoods partner

Are you interested in rewilding your land, but not sure where to begin? Or rewilding already, and facing challenges you need help to solve? Could your story inspire others? Consider becoming a Northwoods partner.

Partners usually own or manage between 50 and 1,000 acres within Scotland, and are looking to commit some or all of this land to rewilding. On joining the network, partners sign up to a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the commitments on both sides, including the core rewilding principles that underpin the network. 

Drawing on the rewilding knowledge and expertise we have in the SCOTLAND: The Big Picture team and within our reach, Northwoods delivers tailored support with a strong emphasis on:

 

  • Application of rewilding best practice
    Support with accessing expert advice and making the right scientific and practical choices for individual landholdings.
  • Financial and business development support
    Working with partners to expand their income streams, access funding, and develop nature-based business to sustain their rewilding.
  • Communications and storytelling resources
    Supporting partners to share and showcase their work to a wide audience, and engage with local communities to demonstrate the benefits of rewilding.

NORTHWOODS STORIES

By showcasing and sharing the models and stories emerging from the Northwoods Rewilding Network, we seek to inform and inspire further ecological recovery across Scotland. Please enjoy and share our stories.