Glen Affric National Nature Reserve could be at the core of an unprecedented collaboration between landowners and communities to create an unparalleled forest corridor stretching from Scotland’s east to west coast.
Narrated by acclaimed cameraman and filmmaker Gordon Buchanan, the five-minute film – ‘Glen Affric: A landscape worth restoring’ – celebrates 60 years of forest restoration in the glen and highlights the opportunities for wildlife and the local economy going forward.
Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life’s Chief Executive, said: “The film celebrates the restoration that has been achieved so far – and spotlights the opportunity to raise the bar even higher by creating a wild, coast-to-coast forest that would form a magnet for wildlife and people, creating local jobs in the process.”
Glen Affric – one of Scotland’s finest landscapes – is still recovering from a difficult past with some areas planted with commercial forestry, and browsing damage from high numbers of grazing animals stifling regeneration.
But over recent decades, Forest Enterprise Scotland and Trees for Life have brought about a remarkable transformation in the National Nature Reserve which is at the heart of the glen – with a new generation of trees creating a reforested landscape that has seen the return of plants, insects, birds and other wildlife.
Trees are also growing further up the mountains than once thought possible – creating wooded hillsides and a natural tree-line not seen in Scotland for generations.
Glen Affric’s steady recovery is showing what is possible, and is inspiring more people to give nature a helping hand to ensure a rich, vibrant landscape full of life.
However, with this recovery in the glen stuck behind fences to prevent grazing, the new vision is for people to work together so the forest can expand naturally – strengthening traditional livelihoods like deer stalking, and creating new opportunities for local businesses from tourism and timber-related enterprises.
“The prize could be a coast-to-coast network of wild forest with people earning a living from a landscape patrolled by stags, hunted over by golden eagles and used by red squirrels to spread their range,” said Steve Micklewright.
The internationally important Caledonian Forest – decimated by centuries of exploitation and overgrazing – today occupies a tiny fraction of its former extent. Trees for Life’s volunteers have now helped establish more than 1.5 million trees at dozens of places across the Highlands. The award-winning charity also works for the return of rare woodland wildlife and plants, and carries out innovative scientific research and education programmes. See www.treesforlife.org.uk.
‘Glen Affric: A landscape worth restoring’ was produced by SCOTLAND: The Big Picture (www.scotlandbigpicture.com) – a non-profit social enterprise that promotes the benefits of a wilder Scotland for people and wildlife through stunning visual media.