THERE is a growing appetite amongst the Scottish public to help nature, according to a charity which has just concluded a three-year skills development project to help people from diverse backgrounds pursue careers in rewilding.

Trees for Life – which has been rewilding Dundreggan estate in Glenmoriston since 2008– received more than 1000 expressions of interest to take part in their “Skills for Rewilding” programme, which welcomed five people per year to Dundreggan over the course of the initiative to spend 12 months under the mentorship of Trees for Life experts.

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There, they were trained in skills including tree nursery horticulture, deer management, conservation, landscape planning, digital marketing and community engagement. 

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project aimed to attract a diverse range of applications, and so provided each trainee with a bursary and on-site accommodation at Dundreggan.

Trees for Life’s Paul Greaves, who managed the project, commented: “It’s clear that there is a growing public appetite to help nature in Scotland. Nationally, we need more investment in skills development to harness this potential workforce, which will benefit communities, biodiversity and the climate.”

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Alice Mellon trained with the programme in digital marketing and has now secured a permanent position with the RSPB as a project officer on the conservation charity’s Giving Nature a Home initiative in her home city of Glasgow, while fellow trainee Heather McGowan, from Inverness, will continue to work at the Trees for Life nursery at Dundreggan.

McGowan said: “Working at Trees for Life has opened up a whole new world to me.

"When I go out into the local landscape, I’m more clued up on native trees, plants and wildlife. I want to keep working in horticulture and be part of the change that’s happening in Scotland to help revive its lost biodiversity.”

In spring 2023, the world’s first Rewilding Centre will open at the Dundreggan site.