Dunvegan Castle and Gardens has secured a £ 1 million grant from the Scottish Government and the EU for a project to establish native forests on the Isle of Skye at Dunvegan.
The MacLeod Estate won the grant for its new native woodland creation project after more than a year and a half of construction. The project will be operated by Scottish Woodlands Ltd, which will run the project until the end of 2021 on behalf of the estate.
The Native Woodland Development Project is the first step of the emerging “rewilding” strategy of the MacLeod Estate, on which Hugh MacLeod, the estate director, has been working for the past few years.
The first step focuses on converting the outskirts of the former home farm of Dunvegan, Totachocaire, into a 240-acre indigenous forest that will be three times the size of the current contiguous forests around Dunvegan Castle and Gardens.
Locals struggle to purchase the property in an attempt to
A total of 372,000 trees with a variety of mixed species will be planted to accommodate the terrain and ecology of the property. Over a 65-year duration, carbon offsets are valued at more than 40,000 tons.
This is in addition to the 60,000 indigenous trees planted in 2010 to replace post-war conifer monoculture, with additional re-vegetation and peatland regeneration plans under progress.
It will bring the total number of native trees planted on the MacLeod Estate to 432,000 since 2010 as one of the largest native forest projects on the Isle of Skye.
Mr. MacLeod said, “In a difficult year of continuing bad news, I am thrilled that this grant has been awarded to the MacLeod Estate for one of the Isle of Skye’s largest and most ambitious native woodland development projects.”
When I decided to give up farming on Totachocaire Farm, part of the estate that not only consists of two marginal farms, but has made losses in almost every year of its existence since my late father revived it in the 1970s, I came up with the idea over ten years ago. This is the first step of our nascent “rewilding” plans and will create an extensive and biodiverse ecosystem that supports a variety of native species once the woodlands are created.
“Policymakers, communities and landowners across the UK are coming to the realization that restoring the appallingly impoverished natural fabric of our landscapes offers a path to environmental, economic and social renewal,” said Ben Goldsmith, an environmentalist and managing director of Menhaden, a London-listed investment company focusing on energy and resource efficiency.
“Hugh MacLeod’s pioneering nature restoration project at historic Dunvegan Castle on Skye is one of the most exciting rewilding stories currently taking place in the UK.”
Dunvegan and District Community Council Chairman John Laing said, “The new woodland will be a tremendous asset to Dunvegan and to Skye over time. It will give pleasure and enjoyment to locals and visitors for generations.”
John Risby, Highland & Islands Conservator of Scottish Forestry, said, “We were pleased to approve this important woodland creation project that will contribute to the Scottish Government’s tree planting targets.”