An inspirational story of ecological recovery of a barren 650 hectare valley in the Scottish Borders
Carrifran Wildwood is the brainchild of a group of local friends with a vision for ecological restoration. In the late 1990s, they raised funds from public donations and purchased this extensive tract of land on Millennium day.
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This was a typical bare glen in the Scottish Borders. Heavy sheep and goat grazing over centuries had left it in a barren state. A few trees were hanging on the steeper edges of the Carrifran Burn. A lone mature rowan became an emblem of what had been and what could come back. The aim of the Carrifran Wildwood group was to restore this to a wild and largely wooded land, evoking the pristine countryside of six thousand years ago.
During the first decade of work, the project planted over half a million trees in the lower valley. They've now planted thousands of shrubs and trees in the high hanging valleys to recreate montane scrub and natural tree line. Volunteers planted over 75,000 of these. They also maintain the fences that keep sheep and goats out. Roe deer have been significantly culled.
The results are clear to see – an emerging and inspiring sea of woodland in a bare and desert landscape. It's now home to many different species of woodland birds that had been lost to the area.
The Borders Forest Trust, which owns Carrifran, has bought nearby Corehead (640ha) and the adjacent Talla and Gameshope estates (1,800ha). These acquisitions have created an exciting, landscape scale rewilding project.