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"Transformational moment" as Durrell launches first Scottish project

Wednesday 25 October 2023

"Transformational moment" as Durrell launches first Scottish project

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has launched its first ever project in Scotland, aiming to restore plants and animals to an 18,500-acre sporting estate in Perthshire as part of what the charity has described as "a transformational moment in the Durrell story".

The Trust has secured the lease for Dalnacardoch Estate, which sits entirely within the Cairngorms National Park, halfway between Blair Atholl and Dalwhinnie.

The land was bought earlier this year by a family foundation with charitable aims, specifically with the intent to lease it to Durrell for this 100-year rewilding project.

Durrell’s intention is to have a managed transition away from Dalnacardoch’s historic use as a sporting estate, and move towards a diversified range of activities that will provide economic, social and environmental benefits. The team’s immediate focus is on engaging with neighbouring estates and potential partners.

It also hopes to recover iconic missing species such as the capercaillie, which is currently facing extinction in Scotland.


Pictured: The capercaillie is a huge game bird, the size of a turkey, which lives in the forests of Scotland.

Significant ecological audits of the site, to establish the geography, species and habitats, are already taking place. These surveys will be ongoing and continue to inform the long-term strategic vision for rewilding the estate in line with the interests of the wider community and the requirements of being in a national park.

Durrell’s chief executive Dr Lesley Dickie described the project as a "transformational moment in the Durrell story", explaining that the UK is "one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth with a multitude of diminished species and missing ecological functions".

“Leasing the Dalnacardoch estate offers an incredible opportunity to demonstrate our approach to conservation and transition this estate to a nature-positive landscape that will benefit both local people and wildlife," she added.

Grant Moir, chief executive of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said that the collaboration is "vital" in helping achieve the Park's National Park Partnership Plan commitments, "particularly around ecological restoration, net zero, woodland expansion, peatland restoration, and green skills and training".

“It’s also encouraging that Durrell plans to work so closely with neighbouring landowners and with the local community, developing a lasting vision that reflects the unique environmental and cultural heritage of the area," he explained.

Durrell’s chief scientist Professor Carl Jones added: "We look forward to restoring the plant and animal communities of Dalnacardoch so that the glens and moors are vibrant with bird song and pulsing with life.”

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