Landowners in the Scottish Highlands have agreed to let their land return to wilderness, in hopes of bringing back forests, wetlands, wildcats, salmon and otters
A conservation organization called Rewild Europe is organizing landowners and municipalities to work together to restore a vast swath of Scotland to its natural state.
Approximately 500,000 acres from Loch Ness to the west coast will be “rewilded.”
In other words, biodiverse woodland denuded by agriculture and urbanization will be allowed to regenerate itself over the next 30 years.
While She will require a little help from humans to undo the damage they’ve caused – removing dams, levies and fences, for example – Mother Nature is perfectly capable of doing most of the work herself, when left alone.
Plantations will be replaced by native forests. Large, naturally grazing herbivores will replace domesticated sheep, who’ve overgrazed former shrublands. And overpopulated deer will be culled until natural predators like the highly endangered Scottish wildcat can be reintroduced, according to Rewild Europe.
The vegetation not eaten by so many deer will attract pollinating insects and songbirds, the organization hopes.
Drained and damaged peatlands will be rewetted so they become carbon sinks once more. In addition to carbon, the wetland habitat will also store water upstream, helping mitigate droughts and floods, while becoming a haven for invertebrates and rare flora.
As trees grow along rivers they will provide more shade for species like salmon, while beavers will help widen the meandering river and create more riparian habitat.
The 20 landowners involved in the project hope to replace any lost income with carbon credits for sinking carbon in the restored natural habitats, and Rewild Europe is working with adjacent communities to help them identify economic opportunities in the sustainable harvest of the rich natural resources of biodiverse ecosystems.