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.
- Natural processes will continue to be allowed room on site to function, and more native species will return
The Rewilding Network
Knoydart, Li and Coire Dhorrcail is part of our Rewilding Network, the go-to place for projects across Britain to connect, share and make rewilding happen on land and sea.
More about Knoydart, Li and Coire Dhorrcail
Find out more about Knoydart, Li and Coire Dhorrcail on their website.