Reviving the wild heart of Southern Scotland

Landscape scale ecological restoration and supporting local landowners and communities to add to the Wild Heart by rewilding land through access to funding and advice.
Credit: Border Forest Trust

At a glance


Dumfries & Galloway


3,100 hectares

Start date





Mountain, Broadleaved woodland and Grassland and meadow

Key species

Roe deer, Woodland birds including willow warblers, chaffinches, blackcap, long-tailed tit, siskin, lesser redpoll, reed bunting and tree pipit and Red Deer

Rewilding actions

Tree Planting, Deer control and Natural regeneration

Engaging people

Volunteering, Recreation, Citizen science and Education programme

In 1996 Borders Forest Trust was formed to Revive the Wild Heart of Southern Scotland’. On January 1st 2000 the first trees were planted at Carrifran Wildwood. Carrifan, is a 1,600 acre ice-carved valley in the Moffat Hills in Scotland. Over the last few decades, Borders Forest Trust has worked to establish a wooded landscape with a rich diversity of native species that would have existed here thousands of years ago.

Since purchasing Carrifran, Borders Forest Trust has bought several more sites and worked with local landowners and communities to create woodlands of all sizes, working together towards Reviving the Wild Heart of Southern Scotland’.

The land has been bought through the hard work of a dedicated team of volunteers and the help of many generous supporters. Borders Forest Trust are working to grow the woodland through a mix of planting and natural regeneration.

The Carrifran Wildwood is already home to returning wildlife, and has seen a particularly significant increase in bird life. Species such as willow warblers, chaffinches, blackcap, long-tailed tit, siskin, lesser redpoll and tree pipit have returned to the valley. Foxes and badgers are now common, and otters, stoats, weasels, kestrels, peregrines and ravens are all taking advantage of the restored landscape. These changes will soon be replicated across the Wild Heart.

In addition to this, Borders Forest Trust works with local children to inspire rewilders of the future. More information can be found in their recently published book A Journey in Landscape Restoration’

The Borders Forest Trust, which owns Carrifran, also owns the adjacent Talla and Gameshope estate (1,800ha) and the nearby Corehead (640ha). Together they form an exciting, landscape scale ecological restoration project — The Wild Heart of Southern Scotland.


Tree planting was undertaken as a local seed source for native trees was not available for natural regeneration. Tree planting utilised volunteers and specialist contractors to kick start natural woodland processes. Deer browsing was controlled using a boundary fence to exclude them from the project area.

Recently, planting has included restoring montane scrub – mountain woodland. This is one of the rarest habitats in the UK and has been virtually eliminated from southern Scotland through centuries of grazing.

Images: Borders Forest Trust

Credit: Border Forest Trust
2004 june 1 Carrifran John Savory


Credit: Border Forest Trust
Credit: Border Forest Trust
Credit: Border Forest Trust
Carrifran valley 16 Mar 21 small file 1
Carrifran with woodland and scree habitat 21 May 19 1

Future Plans

  1. 1 Enrichment planting’, that is filling in the gaps left by dead or dying trees
  2. 2 Planting more shrub species such as hawthorn and hazel
  3. 3 Re-introducing plants such as honeysuckle and ivy, and continuing to expand our areas of montane scrub
  4. 4 Continue to connect restoration with other projects as part of the Wild Heart of Southern Scotland
  5. 5 Continue to expand educational programme in restoration and rewilding

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