It wasn’t so long ago that vibrant, wild forest stretched across much of Scotland. Beavers and cranes were at home in extensive wetlands. Lynx, wolf and wild boar roamed wooded glades. Salmon and trout filled the rivers.
Today, although it’s easy to be seduced by the raw beauty of the Scottish landscape, it is sadly an ecological shadow of its former self. Our native woodland covers just 2% of its former range, many species that were once prolific now teeter on the edge and our large carnivores are all gone. Across huge areas of Scotland, the intricate and balanced ecosystem that emerged from the ice 10,000 years ago, has been unravelled by a few centuries of use and misuse. Over-grazed grasslands and treeless moors have become our signature landscapes. Scotland has become a nature-depleted nation.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Rewilding is a bold vision to repair and restore Scotland’s ecosystems over a vast area, returning them to good health so that wildlife can thrive and communities can flourish. This means thinking big, beyond our smattering of nature reserves to a future Scotland much richer in life, where landscapes are shaped by natural processes, where woodland is expanding across watersheds, where rivers full of fish flow freely and where damaged peatlands are restored to store more carbon and clean more water.
Rewilding is an opportunity to help nature heal after centuries of impoverishment. It’s an opportunity for Scotland to lead the way in transforming its land and seas and in doing so, securing our own future. A wilder Scotland is not a people-less Scotland, it is a place where nature and people thrive together, a place where ecosystems are working in all their colourful complexity to give life to the land and the seas and all dependent species, including us.
Check out our rewilding vision.
We are not separate from nature but part of it. We are a species among many, bound together in an intricate web of life that ties us to the atmosphere, the weather, the tides and every other living creature on the planet. Across the world, nature is in serious decline. We can no longer bury our heads and assume all is well. Here in Scotland we often focus our efforts on saving fragments of habitat and isolated pockets of wildlife, but this is no longer enough.
There is a growing scientific consensus that the next 30 years will be decisive for nature. It’s in this narrow window that we will make choices as a society, as a species. We can choose life over continuing decline. We can choose to give nature the freedom it needs to shape large areas of Scotland. We can choose to expand our pinewoods into a grand nationwide network. We can choose to help our rainforests recover and flourish. We can choose to re-wet our peatlands to store more carbon and purify more water. We can choose to have flower-rich meadows in our towns and cities. We can choose to live alongside beavers and lynx and all the other animals that belong in Scotland. We can choose to protect our seas and keep them healthy and clean with an abundance of life.
With the looming challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change and a growing human footprint, the worst choice we can make is to do nothing.
Let’s embark now on a journey towards a wilder Scotland, with open hearts and imaginations soaring. Let’s open our minds to the Big Picture.
The prize is a Scotland rich in life. All life.