Not quite, though we are looking forward to working with organisations around Europe who offer similar experiences! We do hope our guests will continue to experience the sighting of wild bird species such as the re-introduced white-tailed eagle and the rare hen harrier. Going forward, however, we are looking to enable an environment that will nurture an even greater variety of wildlife. The initial objective of ‘rewilding’ projects can vary depending on the location, context and the distance of the rewilding journey that has been travelled so far. For us, we are making a commitment to habitat regeneration surrounding the retreat. With this lies a desire to see natural processes restored and a vibrant landscape where an even greater variety of wildlife species can flourish.
How human beings and our way of life can co-exist with the natural world is a big question that people and organisations around the world are finally beginning to take seriously. We’re proud to announce that along with fellow organisations within the European Rewilding Network, we too are determined to ensure future plans for Uist Forest Retreat will prioritise environmental sustainability, for the health of our ecosystem, our wildlife and the well being of our visitors.
The forest plantation surrounding the retreat is home to a healthy population of birdlife such as goldcrests, long-eared owls, buzzards, sparrow hawks, woodcock, the rare hen harrier and white-tailed eagle. We will continue to work with RSPB Highlands & Islands, Scottish Natural Heritage and Rewilding Europe to ensure that any decision making regarding activity within the forest is with a conscious awareness of the wildlife that is present now or could be in the future. We will ensure that future plans will be stepping forward in a way that will benefit biodiversity and natural processes and ultimately we hope this will provide a more vibrant wildlife habitat.
What actions will we take? We are at the beginning of what will be a long journey that will take many years. Whilst the exposed coastal location could provide a slow start to restoring native woodlands, we hope the existing coniferous plantation will provide welcome shelter belts for newly planted trees and enable them to establish far quicker than they might otherwise do.
We hope that in 10 years time we will be able to show an image of a more diverse and native selection of trees and shrubs including birch, holly, juniper and rowan, and that this will allow us to report a greater variety of plant, insect and wildlife species.
The biggest challenge we have at the start of this journey is to protect newly planted trees from the tenacious bark stripping and tree thrashing tendencies of the local deer population. Although the original planting did include native trees, many succumbed to the deer with only a few pockets of broadleaf trees remaining. Renewing the fencing will be the first task with a commitment to then afforest areas with native trees and shrubs.
If you are working on similar projects we would love to connect with you and hear your story. If you would like to follow our journey you can sign up to our mailing list below, get in touch or come and stay with us to find out more!
With very best wishes,
Kathryn & Angus
Uist Forest Retreat
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