[Project Update] Northwoods Rewilding Network grows to 50 sites in 18 months

In 2021 The Matthew Good Foundation committed three years of funding to support the Northwoods Rewilding Network, a new initiative from rewilding charity SCOLAND: The Big Picture. As the project approaches the halfway point of our funding period, we are delighted to report that the network is rapidly expanding, successfully increasing more and more of Scotland’s biodiversity.

Woody scrub that has regenerated at the coastal Tireregan site

Woody scrub regenerating at Northwoods Rewilding Network partner, Tireregan. Copyright
James Shooter/scotlandbigpicture.com

When the Northwoods rewilding project was launched in April 2021, the initial goal was to sign up 20 landholdings in the first two years, but the hard work of the project team and the passion of Scottish landowners has helped the network to expand much more rapidly.

The 50 landholdings in the network now range from farms and crofts to community woodlands and private estates, partnering with owners, managers or trustees of the sites. Some are taking their first steps in rewilding, while others are building on longstanding commitments to nature restoration. With its 50th partner – Glassie Farm in Aberfeldy – now signed up, Northwoods now covers more than 13,000 acres.

“This is a landowner-driven aspiration”

James Nairne, Northwoods Project Lead at SCOTLAND: The Big Picture commented, “The thread that runs through the Northwoods Rewilding Network is a determination to be part of the solution to climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. What’s taken us by surprise is the strength of the appetite. From Sutherland to the Solway Firth, and from the East Neuk of Fife to the Ross of Mull, this is a landowner-driven aspiration – they’ve come to us more than the other way round.”

Each site in the network makes their rewilding commitments according to the unique opportunities available for restoring dynamic natural processes in their area. Commitments can include expansion of woodlands, restorations of carbon storing wetlands or creation of Wildlife corridors.

Owner, Gavin Drummond looks over re-wilded land at Harestone Moss.

Owner, Gavin Drummond at Harestone Moss. Copyright Mark Hamblin/scotlandbigpicture.com

Harestone Moss, just north of Aberdeen, joined the Northwoods Rewilding Network in May 2022. The 70-acre site was farmed conventionally for many decades, and rewilding commitments include reversing the effects of 1950s drainage by creating ponds and wetlands. This re-wetting will enable peatlands to resume carbon sequestration. Owners of the site, Gavin Drummond and Laura Hay highlight the grass-roots passion that exists for the project, commenting, “We have an opportunity to create something amazing – a site where visitors can appreciate the restored landscape and the return of wildlife, and where we can earn a living in a way that doesn’t harm the land. We hope that by reaching into a simpler, less extreme past, we can simultaneously honour our heritage and create a better future.”

“We hope that by reaching into a simpler, less extreme past, we can simultaneously honour our heritage and create a better future”

The Matthew Good Foundation would like to congratulate all those involved in the Northwood Rewilding Network for this fantastic achievement, which is making a real impact on restoring Scotland’s biodiversity. We’re delighted to hear that the project is attracting so many passionate land partners, and we look forward to following the developments as the project continues.

More information can be found on our Northwoods project page, or by visiting the Northwoods website, which includes a map of the impressive 50-strong network and more details about every site in the project.