Knoydart, Li and Coire Dhorrcail

The John Muir Trust is restoring this beautiful and rugged landscape to expand native woodland and encourage the return of native species
Credit: John Muir Trust

At a glance


Lochabar, West Coast of Scotland


1,200 hectares

Start date





Upland and Mixed woodland

Key species

Roe deer, Pine marten, Water vole, Buzzard, Eagles, Woodland birds and Otter

Rewilding actions

Tree Planting and Deer control

Engaging people

Recreation and Education programme

The John Muir Trust bought 3,000 acres of land on the remote Knoydart peninsula 30 years ago. Knoydart had suffered from the clearance of the human population in the 1850s, deforestation, large scale sheep farming and heavy grazing by deer. In 1987, the land was bare for the most part through years of heavy grazing.

Today, the planted trees tower above head height. The wind, birds and animals have blown and scattered their seed, expanding the woodland cover naturally. This includes oak, birch, juniper, rowan and Scot’s pine. The Trust has been able to remove part of the fence to allow deer in. By keeping the deer numbers at a level the land can sustain, the trees are able to regenerate.

Wildlife that’s been missing for decades is now returning. This includes pine marten, roe deer, bats, otters, water voles, insects and a whole host of birds including eagles. This is true rewilding in action, and now supports nearly a third of total bryophyte species found in Britain.


There was a lack of seed source because there were so few trees, so the Trust had to plant thousands of trees by hand. This included Scots pine, birch, juniper, hazel, rowan, ash and oak. They fenced off the trees initially for protection. But the ambition was always to create a naturally regenerating woodland where deer could interact with the habitat they need.

Images: John Muir Trust


Credit: John Muir Trust
Credit: John Muir Trust
Credit: John Muir Trust
Credit: John Muir Trust
Credit: John Muir Trust

Future Plans

  1. 1 Natural processes will continue to be allowed room on site to function, and more native species will return

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