Announcing the award from The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said: “A key priority for SNH is to help ensure tourism and other sectors benefit from, and invest in, Scotland's high-quality environment. Nature and culture are closely linked in the Highlands and Islands, and in many places they are central to the local economy, maintaining rural populations, jobs and skills.”
The core of the centre will include displays and interpretation in English and Gaelic, a café, classrooms, Gaelic Resource Centre and events space. Outdoor facilities will include fully accessible trails, children's forest experience area and more challenging trails. The centre will provide events and experiences for visitors to the area, and groups with specific needs – such as those with physical or learning disabilities, families, schools and other groups.
The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund has granted £714,000, while The National Lottery Heritage Fund has given initial support for a grant of £783,000. £630,000 of other funding has been secured to enable the core of the centre to be constructed. Trees for Life is now seeking additional funding, including to power and heat the centre in a sustainable way.
The Rewilding Centre has been developed following extensive consultation with the local community. 10 per cent of local residents responded to requests for feedback, and all were overwhelmingly positive. Planning permission in principle was granted by Highland Council in April 2019, and Trees for Life will apply for full planning permission this year. Construction should begin in early 2021, with the centre opening in 2022.